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Lead traces found in Hyde Park Elementary School in Niagara Falls

NIAGARA FALLS - Parents of the roughly 450 students who attend Hyde Park Elementary School are being advised to talk with their child’s pediatrician about testing for lead exposure after an inspection by the Niagara County Health Department recently found traces of lead in parts of the school.

Some spots in the school needed to be “immediately remediated” after the material was discovered in paint chips and dust, said Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton.

The places where the material was found were ones often associated with lead, like window sills, and near radiators and door jambs, but it was not considered widespread in the building, Stapleton said.

“We went throughout the entire school and checked everything,” he said.

The health department has been working with the school district on the issue since about March 26. The initial inspection followed a report to the health department of a student who had high levels of lead exposure.

As a matter of protocol, county health officials conduct inspections of such a child’s home and school, as well as any other place the child spends a lot of time.

“We don’t know that any children had any high lead levels because of this,” he said.

Lead exposure, which requires the person to ingest the substance, causes a wide range of behavior and developmental problems in children.

While babies are regularly tested for lead exposure, Children of elementary school age typically are not, which is why officials are suggesting parents talk with their child’s doctor about having them checked.

When the contamination was discovered, students were kept from the areas of rooms where lead was found, he said. The school also did a lot of cleaning, said Stapleton, who said the department and school worked together to address the problem. Having students out of the building for spring break made it easier to remediate the problem, Stapleton said.

Any lead contamination is removed when possible. Otherwise it is sealed with additional coats of paint.

Remediation was expected to be concluded by Thursday.

The Niagara Falls School District put out a prerecorded phone message to the students’ homes earlier this week. Deputy Superintendent Mark R. Laurrie said the student whose high levels triggered the inspection has been affected by high lead levels since birth.

The health department suggested the district send a letter to parents, but the district opted for the phone message because it would get the word out faster, Laurrie said.

He assured that parents shouldn’t be alarmed. “Everything has been remediated,” Laurrie said.