Lead testing of SCS students, staff underway

Lead testing of SCS students, staff underway

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Lead testing for students and teachers at Shelby County Schools is underway.

In November, 35 schools tested positive for elevated lead levels in water sources like fountains or sinks.

The test starts as a small finger prick. If positive, health officials will then draw blood to confirm.

Shelby County’s Health Department will carry out the testing. Dr. Alisa Haushalter, director of the Shelby County Health Department, says you cannot correlate the results of this test to the elevated lead levels the district found.

“Children can be exposed in a lot of environments and the most common place that they are exposed is in their home,” she said.

Dr. Haushalter explained throughout the city of Memphis there are roughly 200,000 homes built before 1968 that may contain lead paint. Additionally, homes may have old pipes that contain lead along with some toys or jewelry.

“All we can do is one get a really great history that’s why this form is important that’s the history of other places of potential exposure or history of exposure,” said Dr. Haushalter.

According to Shelby County Schools, initial test results from 165 locations in the district found 35 schools had results that were roughly 1 percent above the EPA threshold. SCS shut off and immediately removed the water sources from use after receiving those results.

For students who test positive, the health department will perform a home assessment test.

“If we do a home assessment for a child that has an elevated lead is to assess the full environment and that includes paint, toys, other things that may be going on including water," she said.

The health department couldn’t say how many students have been tested so far, but testing is expected to be complete by March. Then, the full report of the department’s finding will be released.

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