A Nassau County Department of Health (DOH) investigation found that paint chips tested positive for lead at the Shubert School, located in Baldwin and used by the Uniondale School District. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, joined by Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, recently discussed the investigation to raise awareness of lead paint hazards in old buildings, including schools, daycares, homes, and religious institutions. County health professionals discussed the consequences of exposures in young children, lead poisoning causes, warning signs and preventative measures. County Legislators Carrié Solages and Debra Mulé joined the Curran and DOH leadership.
“As a precaution, we urge parents to alert their child’s pediatrician of the findings and to request a blood test that looks for elevated lead levels,” said Curran. “Children are at a higher risk because of the rapid growth and development of their nervous system and their tendency to put things into their mouths. Uniondale School District moved quickly to respond to DOH’s concerns.”
Peeling paint was noted at the exterior front entrance of the school which has since been closed off. Some of these paint chips tested positive for lead. The interior of the school has not presented as a risk at this time. Out of an abundance of caution, the DOH will be sending informative letters to parents of the children who attended the school.
“The primary route of lead poisoning is by ingesting lead or lead dust,” said Nassau County Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein. “Our Department annually reviews nearly 40,000 pediatric blood tests for elevated blood lead level and we immediately investigate any cases of lead exposure to ensure that the source is removed as quickly as possible. There is no safe blood-lead level in children.”
“The danger of lead poisoning is real and can impact any building constructed before 1978. The Baldwin School District’s swift and thorough response is commendable and should be a model for all to follow in future incidents,” said Mulé.
Initial lead exposure can oftentimes go unrecognized because there may be no obvious symptoms. Parents should look for symptoms such as vomiting and loss of appetite. While many cases of lead poisoning involve leaded paint found in building and homes built prior to 1978, sources of lead poisoning have also included certain foreign cosmetics and make-up products, foreign medicines, toys and jewelry, imported foods, spices, and candies and home goods including cookware, picture frames and pottery.
In 2018, more than 50 new cases of lead poisoned children were identified in Nassau County (blood-lead levels ≥10 mcg/dL). Lead poisoning is a preventable disease that causes learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and permanent brain damage in young children. New York State requires health care providers to test all children for lead with a blood-lead test at the age of 1, 2 and assessed annually until 6.
“The health and safety of our residents is always our top priority,” said Curran. “We want to remind our residents that lead poisoning is preventable by avoiding and removing these known sources of exposure.”
—Submitted by Nassau County