High levels of lead found at three Collierville schools

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COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. — Collierville Schools announced elevated levels of lead were found at West Collierville Middle School, Collierville Elementary School and Tara Oaks Elementary.

According to the district, the tests showed one sink at the middle school came back with a lead level of 48.8 ppb while a second sink at the elementary school tested at 22. These samples are above the regulatory limit of 15 ppb.

The sinks will remain out of service until the numbers return to normal, school officials said.

Mario Hogue with the district says the sink at the West Collierville Middle hasn’t been used for years.

“It is actually part of an old part of West Collierville Middle School that is not accessible,” Hogue said.

Hogue says the sink Collierville Elementary School was only used for hand washing, so students were not drinking from that area.

Testing was also done at the Central office, Crosswind Elementary and Tara Oaks Elementary so far in 2021. The results for Tara Oaks showed two spots with elevated levels, but all other locations did not have any elevated results.

Results from the testing are available here.

At Tara Oaks Elementary School, a source in question was a sink in a clinic, which tested at 54.5 ppb.

“So handwashing, ” Hogue said. “It’s very rare that a student would be drinking from the sink faucet.”

The other spot is a kitchen kettle filler.

“We’re actually not cooking food due to COVID, so everything is pre-packaged,” Hogue said. “We do warm things up, but the kettle spout has not been used for quite some time.”

We asked what caused the elevated levels of lead in the schools.

“Unfortunately some of those school buildings across our district are older, so there was a period of time where we were using lead pipe for infrastructure purposes,” Hogue said.

Hogue says Collierville Schools are doing their due diligence.

“We’re hoping to have everything back into working order in 30 days,” Hogue said.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to lead can lead to health problems for children. This can include damage to the brain and nervous system, slowed growth and development, learning and behavior problems and hearing and speech problems.

For more information on lead poisoning, click here.

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