Mayor: Students, staff of Trenton elementary school to be tested for lead amid high levels at playground
Students and teachers who attend the Ulysses Grant Intermediate School in Trenton will soon be tested for lead poisoning. The decision was made after the Environmental Protection Agency found high lead levels in soil samples from the property.
The school is located along North Clinton Avenue. In the rear of the school, there is now orange fencing surrounding the playground.
It’s not only the playground that’s surrounded by temporary fencing, it’s also the field where students are used to running around and the basketball court that has been found to have dangerous lead levels.
Students are now taking recess inside as the EPA plans to clean up the entire play area at the school.
“They’re going to excavate 24 inches of soil, put down a cap and then replace it with topsoil,” says Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora. “This is a good opportunity to once and for all take care of this. There’s been a lot of suspicion over the years. But this is the first instance where we are asking EPA to come in and test our soil.”
The building itself and the asphalt parking lot are safe so classes can continue.
The nearby McKnight Elementary School was tested by the EPA but lead levels were safe.
After years of sitting dormant, lead, which can damage the nervous system, is now seeping up through the ground. It’s from factories in East Trenton that made pottery in the early 1900s.
Lead may have been released from the exhaust in the kilns and then settled in the soil,” according to the EPA.
The mayor says the pottery companies set up in Trenton created the White House China and President William Taft’s bathtub. Lead was a common ingredient in the manufacturing process.
“The city’s Department of Health will be testing every student from the school as well as any student who attended over the previous two years,” Gusciora says.
the EPA will meet with parents at the Grant School next Friday at 4 p.m. to explain their plans for cleaning up the property.
The mayor says some other nearby private properties were also found to have high lead levels. They will also be cleaned.