PORTLAND – There was some relief for parents at Northeast Portland’s Alameda Elementary School Friday, as workers painted over handrails that had lead paint flaking off of them just a day earlier.
One parent, Virginia Laforte, raised concerns about her child touching the paint after she had some samples tested and high levels of lead were present.
The school was built in 1921, and lead paint was used until the 1970s. The most common way to deal with the toxic lead paint is to cover it with non-lead paint to keep it from flaking off.
Laforte said she’s been trying to get Portland Public Schools to address the issue at Alameda, but the district told her it would cost millions to cover all the lead paint at Portland’s schools.
Friday, the district at least covered the handrails at the school, said PPS chief operating officer Tony Magliano.
“She asked me what I could do and when I could do it, and I said I could get these handrails taken care of,” Magliano said. “They said, ‘When?’ And I said, ‘How about tomorrow?’ And we’re here taking care of it.”
He said handrails are the first step because kids use them a lot, and they get scraped up easily.
Tony Magliano, the Chief Operating Officer of PPS, acknowledged that lead-based paints are a problem if they are flaking off.
"I think awareness is one of the biggest things," he said. "You need to know it's there and kids are teachable, that's why they're here."
After Laforte's complaint, the Environmental Protection Agency said they were looking into the issue.
Still, PPS said there was no timeline for when - or if - the paint would be covered.