Lead testing complete for 1 Shelby County school; 34 more to go

Lead testing complete for 1 Shelby County school; 34 more to go

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - One school down, 34 more to go.

Officials with the Shelby County Health Department provided the Shelby County Commission with an update Wednesday on testing SCS students for lead.

Children at 35 Shelby County schools are eligible for free screenings after tests done in 2019 revealed lead in the water at their schools. The student screenings got underway in December.

Thousands of children, with written permission from their parents, can get tested.

The process involves a finger prick. If results (usually back in four days) warrant it, blood is then drawn and a home assessment is done at the child’s house. It takes about another week to get the final results back to families.

Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter says tests at one school have now been completed. She admits it’s a massive, time-consuming process.

“Really, the only big challenge we ran into is because of the volume of testing,” she told WMC Action News 5. “Our laboratories had a little bit of a delay getting results back to us. But as soon as we get results, we get those back to the parents.”

Haushalter expects all students to be tested by the third week of March. The county commission will receive monthly updates and a final report in early April.

If any of the test results indicate a major red flag, like large numbers of children testing positive for dangerously high levels of lead, Haushalter says school and government leaders will immediately be notified.

The county budgeted $80,000 for the screenings, and the final tab may cost more.

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