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District tests OKC schools for lead

Oklahoma City Public Schools has begun testing school sites for lead in response to a report by The Oklahoman about childhood lead exposure.

The school district tested 37 school sites in ZIP codes deemed high-risk for lead exposure by the Oklahoma Department of Health. Lead results for all 37 sites came back below detectable limits, said Mark Myers, a spokesman for Oklahoma City Public Schools in an email.

"OKCPS is committed to testing all of our school sites, and we plan on having them completed over the next few months," Myers said.

The school district will share test results as they become available on its website,

The Oklahoma State Department of Education does not collect information about schools with lead-based paint, agency spokeswoman Steffie Corcoran said.

It's largely left up to school districts to test for lead in Oklahoma, said Tony Sellars, a spokesman for the Health Department.

“Depending on the age of the school, it is likely that some do contain lead-based paint. They should probably first determine the age of the building and proceed from there, testing those that were built before 1978," Sellars said.

"If lead-based paint is found, they would probably want to have an in-depth lead-based paint assessment by a licensed professional so that they are aware of the areas that contain the lead-based paint should any future remodeling activities occur."

An investigation by The Oklahoman found that most children in Oklahoma go untested for lead exposure.

Of 316 ZIP codes where a sufficient number of Oklahoma children were tested, 106 of those ZIP codes have percentages of children with elevated blood-lead levels that are at or higher than what was found in Flint, Michigan, where a water lead crisis grabbed national headlines and reminded the nation that lead remains a significant health issue.

Jaclyn Cosgrove

Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. Jaclyn... Read more ›

Brianna Bailey

Brianna Bailey joined The Oklahoman in January 2013 as a business writer. During her time at The Oklahoman, she has walked across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to-south down Western Avenue, and once east-to-west, tracing the old U.S. Route 66.... Read more ›