MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Health Department hosted a demonstration for the lead screening and testing process they’ll be using at schools with elevated lead levels.
Shelby County health officials showed us how it works–a prick of the finger and a small amount of blood is all they need to determine whether a child has elevated lead levels.
Shelby County Health Director Alisa Haushalter says her team is testing students at more than 30 schools recently flagged for dangerous amounts of lead. She says the testing is optional.
Haushalter wouldn’t say how many opted for the testing, but says more students may be added to the list.
“Many children may not have symptoms at all and then have lead,” Haushalter said.
WREG uncovered Shelby County Schools did some lead testing back in 2017, and some schools had levels considered unsafe by the EPA. District officials told us parents were immediately notified, but parents we talked to don’t remember being notified.
“There was testing in 2017, but in 2017 there was no state mandate for the schools to report that to the health department,” Haushalter said. “So we did not provide support in doing testing in 2017.”
County Commissioner Edmond Ford has told us he plans on addressing those 2017 schools at the first meeting of the new year, something Haushalter says she’s aware of.
“We are able and willing to work with the schools to make sure those children have access to testing. We may do that in our clinics rather than a school setting,” Haushalter said.