Shelby County puts $80,000 toward on-site lead testing in schools

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After finding dangerous levels of lead in dozens of schools, Shelby County amended its 2020 budget Monday to provide on-site testing for all affected buildings.

The county commission voted to reallocate $80,000 dollars and hopes to begin testing students as early as next week.

Concerned parents who spoke at the county commission meeting said on-site testing was one of their chief concerns. Most of the potentially affected parents don’t have the time or resources to take their children and go get tested for lead poisoning after these recent findings.

The county is confident they can handle the challenge, comparing it to an outbreak of hepatitis or the flu. When something like that happens, they often go to location to provide testing or vaccines, so sending large amounts of personnel into the field and getting blood work from a large number of patients is something they’re prepared for.

“This is very routine for us," said Dr. Haushalter, director of the Shelby County Health Department. "It’s just become much more public because it’s the school system. So we’re accustomed to this way of working, and trying to get to the customer rather than them coming in to us.”

Testing consists of just a prick of the finger.

The county hasn’t decided if they’ll send out consent forms to parents or if they’ll do an “opt out of consent” system, where parents will have to request that their students not get tested.

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