Shelby County Schools parents seek information on dangers of lead poisoning

Local Health Alert

MEMPHIS, Tenn. ( – Some Shelby County School parents are worried and still confused about the dangers of lead testing. One elementary school reported an odd taste to the water. 

“In the beginning, the water tasted like blood,” said a 10-year-old student at Jackson Elementary. “I don’t know why it tasted like that. But I stopped drinking it at that point.”

After Local 24 spoke to his mom, Angela Flores, about her concerns with lead water, she drove him to a clinic. Jackson Elementary is now on the expanded list of 35 Shelby County Schools which tested positive for elevated levels of lead. It had the third highest lead levels out of 60 samples taken by the district.

Flores’ son says some students reported stomach aches to teachers. They were instructed to stop drinking from the fountains if it tasted unusual.

“Well of course I was freaking out because my kids drink from the fountains,” said Flores. 

Parents received information on seven Shelby County Health Department clinics offering free screenings and tests for students.

“I don’t understand the whole lead poisoning, what it does what it can cause?” questioned Flores. 

She wasn’t the only parent who didn’t know why lead poisoning is so dangerous. A pediatrician at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital explained the risks. 

“Childhood development and academic achievement,” said Dr. Jason Yaun, a pediatrician at Le Bonheur. “There is some data showing it may affect IQ even at lower levels.”

Higher lead levels, though rare, can result in more damage.

“It can cause gastrointestinal issues,” said Yaun. “More severe neurological issues.” 

If blood tests do come back positive, medication can be taken to reduce lead in the body. Testing involves a finger prick. If results are positive, a followup test is scheduled. That result comes back within five days. 

Here’s a list of clinics for testing:

Cawthon Public Health Clinic, 1000 Haynes, 38114

Collierville Public Health Clinic (Tues. & Thurs. only), 167 Washington St., 38017

Hickory Hill Public Health Clinic, 6590 Kirby Center Cove, 38118

Immunization Clinic, 814 Jefferson, Rm. 216, 38105

Millington Public Health Clinic, 8225 Highway 51 North, 38053

Shelby Crossing Public Health Clinic, 6170 Macon Road, 38133

Southland Mall Public Health Clinic, 1287 Southland Mall, 38116

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