Voluntary lead tests begin at big New Jersey school district

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Voluntary blood tests to check students for the presence of lead are starting in New Jersey’s largest school district.

Testing on Thursday focuses on the youngest students at two of the 30 Newark schools where elevated levels of lead were found in the drinking water. As many as 17,000 children will be checked for lead poisoning.

Lead is known to severely affect a child’s development.

Officials are urging calm and say they don’t believe there are any serious health risks. They say the lead levels in some of Newark’s schools don’t compare to the crisis that has plagued Flint, Michigan.

Lead hasn’t been found in the city’s water supply. It likely leached into the schools’ water through lead pipes or other building fixtures made of lead or lead solder.