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Cleveland School Officials Work to Test Children For Lead Poisoning

photo of Lyn Lotas
Dr. Lynn Lotas, left, helps Case Western Reserve nursing students practice collecting samples for their upcoming lead testing partnership with Cleveland schools.

Cleveland has a lead problem. That’s according to a school official who is now working to make sure children in the district get tested for lead exposure.

Debbie Aloshen is the director of health and nursing services for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.  She says "lead is one of the most underreported diseases there is.” 

Aloshen says she’s seen lead exposure manifest itself in children in a variety of ways—creating mental, behavioral, and even severe physical problems.

There’s no legal requirement for children to be tested for lead, unless they’re covered by Medicaid, and as a result, Alsohen says there’s no way to track how many are exposed to the metal. But with a housing stock largely built before the 1970s and 80s, when lead paint and pipes were outlawed, she knows it’s a problem in Cleveland.

That’s why CMSD is teaming up with Case Western Reserve University to test children ages three to six in district schools for lead exposure. Three schools will participate in the testing this year, but will expand so that in two years, every child in the age range will be tested on an annual basis.