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Eastern Howard Co. Schools testing students and staff for lead in blood on Friday

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GREENTOWN, Ind. (February 19, 2016) – On Friday, Eastern Howard County Schools are blood testing students and staff to check for lead exposure.

This comes after water at Eastern High School came back positive for lead as recently as Tuesday.

The district says it expects to test 600 kids out of a total 1,500 who attend district schools.

Testing started around 8:30 a.m. Friday for any student or staffer who wanted it.

The Howard County Health Department says results could take weeks to come back.

If a student tests with elevated lead levels from Friday’s test, a second test will be done.

If that’s elevated as well, the health department will look for the exposure area, including home, school or somewhere else.

Treatment in most cases is simply to remove the child from that exposure source, and the lead levels drop.

But, in extreme cases in young kids, the health department says brain development can be affected.

As for the school, while results are pending, 38 at-risk water fountains that were in place before 1996 will get a filter.

If the water from those fountains then tests negative for lead, the district will transition back to Greentown water.

That process should take a few weeks, during which time kids will continue to use bottled water at the school.

The long term goal is to replace the pipes which will take much longer.

“Your kids are safe, and we have been very transparent in moving forward, and we’re going to continue to do everything to make sure that when kids come to Eastern Howard, they know that their kids are going to be OK and that they’re absolutely safe,” said Superintendent Dr. Tracy Caddell.

Caddell said the district doesn’t believe the school’s kitchen pipes are affected, but they will use bottled water there for now as well.

He estimated a cost to the district of roughly $400 per day to supply bottled water.

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