Lead found at Cumberland County elementary school

WTVD logo
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Lead found in Cumberland County school
EMBED <>More Videos

William H. Owen Elementary School on Raeford Road

FAYETTEVILLE (WTVD) -- Cumberland County school officials say an environmental study has found lead hazards in areas accessible to students at William H. Owen Elementary School on Raeford Road in Fayetteville.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, they said the lead was discovered in old paint on the building. A letter is being sent to parents.

"The majority of the exposure would have happened outside, and it's in areas that children aren't in most of the time. Most of the time they're in the classroom," said Cumberland County Health Director Buck Wilson.

Officials said the lead was found primarily on the exterior of the building. None was found in classrooms or in water samples.

"It's a minimal risk but were trying to be transparent," said Cumberland County Superintendent Dr. Frank Till. "As the schools get older and there's less maintenance money, there's more of a chance that where maybe lead was encapsulating for many many years, [is] now it's wore thin and now it's not encapsulated . So we're on top of that and were cooperating with the county so we got a plan to monitor."

Officials said no student or staff is known to have elevated levels of lead in their blood, but the Health Department will offer free blood lead testing at the school on Sept. 12 for students and staff. Free testing will also be provided at the Cumberland County Public Health Center, 1225 Ramsey Street. No appointment is necessary. The hours are Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m., with extended hours every Tuesday until 7 p.m.

Parents who have any questions or concerns about the health effects or the blood test for lead may contact Sandra Shipley, Cumberland County Health Lead Nurse, at (910) 433-3689.

The lead is being removed from the building and the work will be done prior to students starting the new school year on Aug. 29.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency , lead in children can cause problems ranging from lower IQ and hyperactivity to slower growth and hearing problems.