Health Dept: PPS students got lead poisoning at home

Lead poisoning comes from many places, including paint

Music students stand on risers in a Portland school, May 26, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
School students, May 26, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Two children found to have elevated lead levels in their blood were poisoned by a household source, not water from a Portland school.

Health officials say they were able to pinpoint the source of the lead exposure with “almost 100% accuracy”.

“We’re cautiously reassured that after screening hundreds of children and adults, the only people with elevated lead in their blood were not exposed by drinking water,’’ Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Paul Lewis said in a release.

Of 519 children and adults tested at Creston and Rose City Park schools in June, only 2 were found to have elevated lead levels. But drinking water wasn’t the source in either case, Multnomah County Leadline investigator Perry Cabot said.

Multnomah County Leadline: 503.988.4000

The exposure reportedly came from the children’s homes. Health officials couldn’t share the precise source due to medical privacy concerns.

“In this particular case the source has been identified and mitigated,” Cabot said.

Lead poisoning can come from many sources including paint, metal scraps, hobbies, pottery and other items, according to the Multnomah County Health Department.

Health officials say these incidents should serve as a reminder that homes are far more likely to contribute to cases of lead poisoning than water.

“[More] than 50% of lead poisoning in Multnomah County are connected to renovations, repairs and painting work where lead-based paint is [used],” Cabot said.

Still, that’s not to say drinking water concerns within PPS should be taken lightly.

Almost all PPS buildings tested so far have water fixtures with elevated lead levels. At Jefferson High School alone, 198 water fixtures showed elevated lead levels.

Doctors will keep monitoring the children with elevated lead levels, possibly for the rest of their lives. They will get follow up tests when they get blood work in the future.

Parents worried about their children being exposed to lead should have them tested within 2 months or the toxin could leave their body, the health department said.

Bottled water will be provided throughout PPS during the 2016-17 school year.

Comments are closed.