A recent report shows that many school districts nationwide did not inspect their schools for lead-based paint.

The study by the Government Accountability Office estimates only 12 percent of school districts inspected their schools for lead-based paint in the school year 2016-17, while about three-quarters of school districts had not inspected.

About half of the school districts that inspected found lead-based paint. All school districts that found lead-based paint in their schools reported taking action to reduce or eliminate it or had plans to do so.

When it comes to whether or not Bay area schools inspect, 10investigates is still waiting to hear back from many of them.

Polk County Public Schools sent us the following statement:

"We do not currently have a program in place for this type of testing. If paint is disturbed in a building built prior to 1978, our Facilities department would contact an environmental consultant to take samples and conduct testing. If lead paint is found, we would follow the consultant’s recommendations for mitigation."

Pinellas County Schools sent 10Investigates a copy of its certificate from the U.S. EPA that says they fulfilled the requirements of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 402 and has received certification to conduct lead-based paint renovation, repair, and painting activities pursuant to 40 CFR Part 745.89. The certificate is valid through October 2, 2022.  

Hillsborough County told 10Investigates that schools built before 1978 were tested for lead paint. School district officials said, "The district policy for schools built before 1978, in which suspected paint may contain lead, are tested prior to any work being done and any lead paint that is found is removed." 

Hillsborough County Public Schools officials said schools with lead paint have had it removed or encased to eliminate exposure to students. They said all exposed lead paint is removed before any work can be done. 

Hardee County's school district tells 10investigates: “We check for lead in paint when repairs/renovations are done and the lead is abated, but there is not an ongoing program of routine checking for lead in paint. We have a (lead renovation, repair and painting)-certified staff person in accord with applicable state law.”

Sarasota County schools' spokewoman Kelsey Whealy sent this statement

Similar to our approach for lead testing in water, we’ve been proactive about testing for lead in paint in buildings constructed before 1978 that are frequented by children under age 6. As you know, the concern centers around children accidentally eating paint flecks that could have traces of lead – this is not something that can be transmitted in the air.

We hired a consultant to conduct the tests and trace instances of lead were found in paint at some schools. I’m waiting on a specific breakdown of the results still, but I can tell you the process we have in place is complete remediation. Before any touch-ups or repainting occurs in a positive test site, we use a certified vendor to remediate the impacted area before applying new paint.

As I’ve mentioned before, our School Board has wisely stewarded our funds to allow for rolling renovations on our various school campuses. Many areas that could have been of concern were already remodeled prior to testing

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no safe blood lead level in children has been identified.

“Dealing with children with developing brains can have significant issues if lead levels are high enough. Obviously, the desired level is zero,” says Dr. Alfred Aleguas, director at Florida Poison Control Center.

There are no federal regulations that require school districts to inspect for lead based paint. The EPA, however, does have recommendations for how to handle renovations when dealing with lead-based paint.

RELATED: Program aims to 'Get the Lead Out' of school drinking water

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