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School system downplays toxin results in schoolyards

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BATON ROUGE - Harmful contaminants found on school playgrounds have parents worried about their children's safety.

"I want to make sure my kids are safe at school," said Alham Saad. " And that this isn't going to affect their health."

In February, News 2's Investigative Unit tested soil at 11 East Baton Rouge Parish schools with LSU AgCenter Soil Scientist Dr. David Weindorf. Some tests produced levels of lead and arsenic twice the EPA limit. Many of these high levels were found in paint and materials used to build older schools.

"We found a couple of elevated levels," said Weindorf. "It wasn't... widespread contamination. It was isolated in certain places."

Seven months ago, School Board President David Tatman told News 2 that they were working with the LSU AgCenter to evaluate all of the schools in the district.

However, Weindorf says that never happened.

Monday, EBR Schools issued a statement to the Investigative Unit saying Dr. Weindorf's protocols during the soil testing in all probability produced misleading results. The district also says they will continue to monitor the soil by conducting random soil samples, employing what it calls "proper testing protocols."

Dr. Weindorf says he stands by his testing methods and procedures.

EBR Schools could not provide any evidence that they have re-tested any playgrounds since our initial investigation.

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