5 on Your Side: Lead concerns at school

ST. LOUIS - The follow up of a 5 on Your Side investigation is giving parents the ammunition to decide if their children should be tested for lead at Buder Elementary in St. Louis City.

Saint Louis Public Schools discovered lead contamination last week in an area workers where workers were installing an elevator. An asst. superintendent said the district found out about the positive result after lead had been cleared. The district never notified parents or teachers about the result

Buder Elementary principal Sally Bloom called the health department to do lead tests on children.

Nurses were supposed to go into the school Thursday, December 12. The communications director for SLPS told us he asked to postpone those tests because they weren't necessary.

"It's always good to test if there are children with elevated levels. I want to know that, irregardless of where the contamination came from. We're not going to jump to conclusions if the child has elevated lead or that the school caused it," said St. Louis City Health Director Pam Walker. She said nurses will go into schools, daycares, community centers, wherever parents want their children tested. Under Missouri law, health department nurses are required to test children under five once a year.

Walker said she couldn't compel the district to offer lead testing unless the issue was a public emergency. We left a message for the CEO of the Special Administrative School Board, Rick Sullivan to ask if he'd require the district to cooperate with the health department. He told us through a spokesman he wasn't available to take our call. We've asked him to call us when he is available.

The City of St. Louis was able to cut its lead in school age children from 1500 children in the city to 300 through aggressive lead testing programs in the last 10 years. Walker said lead testing is still a priority.

Most schools in the city have lead because lead paint was widely used several decades ago.


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