• U.S.

Newark Will Test Children for Lead Poisoning Due to School Contamination

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The city of Newark, N.J. will test about 17,000 children for lead poisoning after finding lead in the drinking water at 30 schools in the district.

About 2,000 toddlers at early childhood centers in those schools will be the first to be tested, Hanaa Hamdi, director of the Department of Health, told the City Council on Tuesday, nj.com reported.

The remaining older students will then be tested at sites set up outside of the schools, which sparked some debate among city officials.

“It doesn’t mean the other students are not our priority,” Hamdi said. “If we can look at those toddlers first, we’ll be able to gauge whether they’re safe or not.”

The lead findings in Newark come after high levels of lead were found in the public water supply in Flint, Mich. Officials in Newark have assured residents that the levels of lead in the school drinking water are not as high as those found in Flint. Newark officials do not know yet how many students were exposed to lead in the school buildings.

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Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com