A kindergarten student poisoned by lead in his school in Argentan

The parents of students at the Argentan school have just learned that a child was poisoned with lead in March 2022. The lead paint, present on the metal elements of the establishment, could be in question. After investigation, the ARS advises against collective screening of children.

“We’re still a little concerned because it doesn’t happen very often. My daughter has asthma, she has anemia, she has a lot of little problems that come up and I wonder if it doesn’t have to do with that. I went to my doctor because I saw him deteriorate this year, so I’m a little concerned.” says a mother whose daughter attends the Anne Frank kindergarten in Argentan (Orne). “Too bad we were only warned yesterday”, laments another mother whose two children are students at this establishment. These questions from parents come in the form of an information letter sent by City Hall on Monday, June 20, 2022. A student at their facility was poisoned with lead in March 2022. However, upon investigation, Normandie’s ARS indicated that lead was present in metal elements of the school such as grilles or pipes while stating that nothing prevented the child from being infected elsewhere.

The metal elements in question are protected, says Frédéric Leveille, mayor of Argentan this Tuesday morning, to make them inaccessible to children. “In the summer, a company will come to work on these identified places, on the piles and pipes, to ensure safety, he continues. In 2024, this room is no longer intended as a school. Tomorrow there will be a new school.”

We want to provide parents with information in complete transparency and explain to them that if they had any fear, they could rightly consult their doctor. But the ARS has not asked us to set up a systemization of possible screenings.

Frédéric Leveille, Mayor of Argentan

France 3 Normandy

lead poisoning have abnormal levels of lead in the body. The vigilance threshold is set at 25 micrograms per liter of blood. The reporting rate is 50 micrograms per liter of blood. “In Normandy, we decided to act from the threshold of vigilance. The child weighed between 25 and 50 micrograms”, explains Dr Benoît Cottrelle, who is responsible for monitoring and health security at the ARS. This explains the triggering of theARS environmental survey last April

Lead poisoning is the pathology associated with lead poisoning† It is measured by the blood lead (or blood lead level). In a child or young person under the age of 18, we speak of lead poisoning if the lead level in the blood is equal to or greater than 50 micrograms per liter of blood. This requires prolonged exposure to lead, says Dr Benoît Cottrelle. The child was in a situation where he had not yet reached this stage of pathology, but “a situation that required intervention”says the doctor.

Lead poisoning can affect the body, at the level of the nervous system, bone marrow and kidneys. In the young pupil of Anne Franck’s school, no consequences at this stage directly visible in the child. The main risk is a developmental learning disability, a minor developmental delay. It is at much higher rates around 250 that it is necessary to initiate treatment aimed at eliminating lead in this child”says Dr. Benoît Cottrelle, who indicates that apart from a healthy lifestyle and monitoring, no treatment is needed.

In the case of the Argentinian school, the question remains: why was lead paint, banned since 1949, present in this school built in the 1950s? “Hard to understandreplies the head of monitoring and health security at the ARS. In the case of another school, it’s the same situation (…) I think we’ve kind of lost our memory of the successive layers of paint that accumulated on certain elements.” The mayor of Argentan cannot explain it either. “Maybe it was necessary to sell the shares at the time?”, he wonders.

Believe there was none “reason to think that other children could be infected”ARS does not recommend screening for other children at school.

After several parents have applied, the town hall and the ARS organize a visit to the school to mainly answer their questions.

Leave a Comment