Nassau County is warning about 200 parents that paint chips with lead have been found at a school attended by a preschooler who was diagnosed with lead poisoning, county officials said Tuesday.
Peeled paint was found outside a front entrance of Baldwin Union Free School District’s Shubert School. That entrance has been closed off, and students now use another entrance. No lead paint was discovered inside the building.
The child is a student at Uniondale Union Free School District, which leases space at the school for its prekindergarten program. The county’s Department of Health conducted the investigation after the child, who was not identified, had blood levels classified as lead poisoning. Health officials declined to provide the exact contamination level of the blood.
“As a precaution, we urge parents to alert their children’s pediatrician of the findings and to request a blood test that looks for elevated lead levels,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.
A Baldwin school district statement noted that county health officials said they couldn't be sure the school was the source of the lead poisoning. The district was notified Oct. 12 about the student's elevated lead levels.
"Steps to remediate the condition on the one impacted exterior door were undertaken immediately by our buildings and grounds department," the district said in an emailed statement. "All other parts of the building tested negative and were deemed safe . . . The safety of all students and staff at our facilities is always our highest priority, and we will continue to cooperate with the Department of Health with their investigation."
County Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein said about 50 children countywide have elevated levels of lead in their blood. Test results trigger investigations to locate sources.
County health officials said the area at the school has been “stabilized” — either paint chips picked up or old paint painted over — but the school would submit a long-term plan to the county.
Eisenstein said, “We cannot say for sure the school” is the primary cause of the lead poisoning. “We don’t want panic. The risks are very low.”
Uniondale Union Free School District in a statement said the outside entrance of the building has been primed by the Baldwin School District and it is working with the county department of health on a long-term abatement plan.
"Though the area has been determined safe by the Department of Health, the Uniondale Union Free School District has decided to use an alternative entrance to the building for students," according to a statement emailed by the school district.
Paint made before 1978 contained lead, which if digested can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems and permanent brain damage in children.
Lead makes paint sweet, making it particularly enticing to young children, Eisenstein said.
County health officials said notices will be sent to about 180 parents in this year's class, as well as parents from last year's classes.