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Southcrest School Offers No-Cost Blood Tests After Lead Scare

David Sanchez fills out paperwork after his 10-year-old daughter, Lizbeth, ha...

Photo by Megan Burks / KPBS

Above: David Sanchez fills out paperwork after his 10-year-old daughter, Lizbeth, had her blood drawn for lead testing, April 21, 2017.

The San Diego Cooperative Charter School is taking steps to give parents peace of mind after elevated levels of lead and plastic residue were found in its drinking water. A mobile clinic parked out front Friday to offer no-cost blood tests.

The Family Health Centers bus is a common sight at the school. It comes twice a month so low-income families can get health care, usually paid for by Medi-Cal. Friday, the school picked up the tab for students who would not otherwise be able to get tested for lead poisoning.

Executive Director Tom Pellegrino said about a dozen students have already been to their private doctors for tests and told the school they do not have lead in their blood.

"Some that don't have insurance and others that perhaps it's really hard to get in or there's excessive costs to that, we wanted to make sure that they had an easy place to go and be reassured," Pellegrino said.

The tests cost the school $25 each. Pellegrino said the school would also pay $175 for additional water sampling on campus.

San Diego Unified is testing all of its school sites for lead, but technicians don't sample every fixture. They pull water from the five most-used faucets.

RELATED: Elevated Lead Levels Not Detected In Latest Round Of San Diego Unified Testing

Cooperative Charter is spread across two campuses about a block apart. The district tested every faucet on one campus after four tested positive for lead. The other campus had five samples drawn per protocol — they came back negative for lead — but Pellegrino wants to get the remaining faucets tested out of an abundance of caution.

His students there are still on bottled water until the results come back in about a week.

"I don't think for us that rolling the dice on that is a move that I would want as a parent," said Pellegrino, who also brought public health experts to campus to talk with parents about lead poisoning and other potential sources of lead. Contamination is common in low-income neighborhoods, where paint and building materials tend to be older.

David Sanchez had his 10-year-old daughter tested Friday and said he appreciates the school's response.

"They're doing something about it and they're expressing concern for the health of the children," he said through a translator.

San Diego Public Utilities is testing five schools a day under a new state rule that requires water suppliers to test schools for free. At least 140 schools in the county have requested testing.

San Diego Unified has had 48 of its schools tested in addition to Emerson-Bandini, where Cooperative Charter is located. Results are in for 30 and all are clean.

The San Diego Cooperative Charter School is taking steps to give parents peace of mind after elevated levels of lead and plastic residue were found in its drinking water. A mobile clinic parked out front Friday to offer no-cost blood tests.

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