Children at a local preschool may have been exposed to lead poisoning

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The Environmental Health Division of Kern Public Health evaluated lead levels at Brilliant Minds Academy on Taft Highway last week and found some lead levels were above regulatory standards. 

Now, Brilliant Minds Academy is under fire.

Lead levels in the paint and the soil in some areas within the preschool are above regulatory standards – including some samples taken from a playground. Which means roughly 52 children could have been exposed to lead poisoning this year alone. 

Michelle Curioso is the Director for Public Health Nursing. She says, “Some of the things that you need to look for are constipation, headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, developmental delays.”

One child’s exposure has already been confirmed. 

“We did have a child that had elevated blood lead levels that was referred to public health for case management,” said Brynn Karrigan, Assistant Director of Public Health. 

After conducting a sampling at the child’s home where no lead was detected, Environmental Health then tested the preschool. 

“There is a potential that there was lead at the facility just due to its age, so we went out and did some sampling there,” Brynn told 17 News on Monday. 

The preschool is located in a building that was constructed prior to 1978. Lead in paint wasn’t banned until then, so it’s possible the building still contains those toxins from decade-old paint. 

Regardless, Kern County Public Health Services Department hosted a parent meeting Monday night to discuss the potential lead exposures and answer questions. 

“I’m hoping there’s some good excuse because I would hate to have to pull my kid out of there,” said one of a dozen parents at Monday night’s Q&A. 

“The least they can do is tape off the area, at least. And keep the children away from that area,” said Jose Quevedo, who has a 2-year-old daughter enrolled at Brilliant Minds Academy. 

The preschool’s website says, “We have cordoned off suspect areas and have an action plan in place to mitigate and correct based on the receipt of the testing.”

But some parents say, they haven’t seen anything taped off. 

“I know for example today I didn’t see that,” Quevedo said. “I saw children going in there so I called right away and I asked about that and I expressed my concern.” 

Public Health is recommending parents get their children tested for blood/lead poisoning. All it takes is a venous blood draw at your child’s health provider.

You can also call the health department with questions about lead exposure, at 321-3000.

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