Lead tests needed to overturn playing field ban

Tests are set to be carried out on a school playing field that has been a no-go zone for pupils for more than three years because of lead contamination fears.

Derby City Council plans to appoint experts to test the land at the city’s Becket Primary School, which was built on the site of a former paint factory.

Pupils were banned from the site and the land has been fenced off.

But since then, the council has been forced to wait to secure funding from the EU to cover the estimated £40,000 cost of the work.

In the meantime, the school has been forced to relocate sports activities.

The council hopes that the tests will reveal the land is safe and allow them to reopen it to the public, but officials are currently unsure of the levels of contamination.

“The tests will be carried out shortly,” a council spokesman said. “We are hopeful that they will point the way towards reinstating the land for school use.”

According to the Health Protection Agency, the risk to pupils’ health from the land has been minimised as a result of the council’s decision to fence the site off.

The possible contamination dates back to when the site was occupied by a paint factory, as lead was still used in paint until the lat-1980s – long after the school had begun teaching Derby’s youngsters in the mid-1970s.

As well as the more well-known risks of long-term lead exposure – such as liver and kidney damage and the possibility of developing cancer – high levels of lead exposure among children has also been linked to a decrease in IQ.

Kate Martin

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