The St. Louis Health Department ordered blood tests for 18 children after high levels of lead were discovered on playground equipment. The playground is located near the I-64/40 bridge downtown, where crews have been removing lead paint from the bridge.
The daycare, located in the Robert A. Young Federal Building on Spruce Street, asked the city to test the area after noticing a light layer of red dust on some of the playground equipment. Tests confirmed it was lead dust and in some places, it was found in amounts nine times the acceptable level.
"Until I get actual test results back for the kids, I'm not ready to panic or say anybody should panic," said Pam Walker with the city's health department.
Walker said a child would have to ingest large amounts of lead to feel the effects of poisoning. The health department is investigating the cause of the dust and immediately looked to the Missouri Department of Transportation. MoDOT says it does not believe the dust came from it's construction site.
Still, MoDOT has cleaned up the lead dust at the playground and the area is now covered.
Ed Hassinger, MoDOT's District Engineer, says MoDOT did not know a daycare was located near the work zone. Hassinger added that the paint removal meets construction standards. MoDOT uses tarps to keep the work area contained and large vacuums are on site to keep dust down.
Results from blood tests done on the children are due back by the end of the week, according to Walker.
MoDOT is also doing it's own testing.
A tuck-pointing job on the federal building, near the bridge work, has been suspended for the worker's safety until the testing is complete.