Elevated lead levels found in 35 Shelby County Schools, Lead Prevention and Sustainability Commission formed

Local Health Alert

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Obviously, the issue of lead became a big deal in Memphis once we heard about the problems at Shelby County Schools.

It’s been a big deal here for some time, is a big deal now, and will continue to be.

Thirty-five schools.That’s where lead was found. In drinking fountains at thirty-five Shelby County Schools. As many as 19,000 students are being tested for any potential lead poisoning, thanks to a bill, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris had approved when he was a state senator.

“If there is a risk of contamination that exceeds the EPA standards of 20 parts per billion,” Mayor Harris said, “then the school would be required to take that water out of circulation and then give notice to the state authorities and also the parents.”

Shelby County School officials had to test the water supplies because of this bill. It’s why the Lead Prevention and Sustainability Commission was formed last year. That bill set things in motion.

“We want that bill to continue to get stronger,” says Latricea Adams of the Lead Prevention and Sustainability Commission. “We don’t want to lose it. But most importantly, it’s been a long time coming to assess what the quality of water is in our schools.”

This is just their beginning. Adams says her group is moving slowly, but with a purpose in mind. And Tennessee is in pretty good shape, she says, compared with, say, Flint Michigan.

“When we think about lead and water,”she says, “we think about Flint, Michigan. It sent a surge of panic through the country. Tennessee is in a good space. We’re proactive, so let’s go in and take a look.”

The committee will meet on January 27 at the Benjamin Hooks Library.

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