Enzo DomingoMar 16, 2016, 10:08 amMar 16, 2016, 5:41 pm

Newark to begin testing children for lead poisoning Thursday, health officials say

Effort comes after toxin was discovered in water supply of nearly half of city’s schools

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Newark will test up to 17,000 children for lead poisoning after elevated levels of the substance were found in the drinking water at nearly half of the city’s schools.

The Newark Public School's Business Administrator, Valerie Wilson, said testing will begin Thursday at some early education centers. Testing of school buildings will begin Saturday.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka addressed the lead issue in his State of the City address, saying that the testing is not mandatory. Baraka also said that the testing will be paid for by the city, but that the city is hoping for state intervention to cover some of the costs.

Baraka also reassured residents that the city's water supply is safe to drink. In the interim, the flagged schools are relying on bottled water for drinking and cooking.

It's unclear how long the students have been exposed to the high levels of lead or how long it will take to solve the problem. Parents who don't want their child tested will have the opportunity to opt-out.

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