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Free blood lead screenings in Portsmouth for families

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - The Portsmouth Health Department and Virginia Department of Health are co-sponsoring an environmental health workshop Saturday at the Wesley Community Service Center from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. Citizens can get free blood lead screenings and soil lead screenings. It's something a local family said prevented a tragedy.

"The lead levels in his body was close to three times the amount," said Elois Cuffee-Smith.

She said her grandson, Isaac, was almost three when he got tested as a requirement for a headstart school program a few years ago. Those test results showed he had 28.7 micrograms of lead in his blood. According to the Virginia Department of Health, anything more than 10 micrograms is considered an elevated level.

"We couldn't understand where it was coming from and when we found it was where we were living at the time, it was alarming," said Cuffee-Smith.

After News 3 aired the Cuffee family's story in 2016, they were moved into a different apartment. Now, Cuffee-Smith wants other families to take precautions.

"Most parents will not get their child checked and they need to. You don't want your child to grow up and it's too late," said Cuffee-Smith.

The Director of the Portsmouth Health Department, Dr. Lauren James, said she's excited to see lots of families this weekend.

"This is a great opportunity for our local citizens to come and find out about specific health concerns, environmental all things that happen in our community," said Dr. James.

She stressed the importance of making sure children get tested.

"They're vulnerable for brain damage if they're continuously exposed to high levels," said Dr. James.

For more information on the workshop, click here.