Local News

Lead paint contamination closes Garner day care

Posted July 11, 2011 10:15 p.m. EDT
Updated July 12, 2011 12:21 p.m. EDT

— A Garner day care center has closed its doors after county inspectors found hazardous levels of lead paint inside it, and many parents who utilized the facility are now having their children checked for possible exposure.

Ridoutt's Daycare Center, at 600 Saint Marys St., was in business for more than 60 years. Owners Chad and Candy Ridoutt said they put a sign on the door Friday stating they've closed until further notice due to lead paint contamination.

After several visits from Wake County's environmental services division in April, the Ridoutts said they received the environmental lead investigation report on July 5, which confirmed that the infant and kitchen areas at the facility contained hazardous levels of lead paint.

The county initiated an investigation after a routine sanitation inspection in March uncovered flaking paint at the facility.

Christy Harris, who worked at Ridoutt's for nine years before being laid off in February, said she noticed signs of possible lead paint exposure during her employment.

"We were all having headaches, stomachaches. The kids were always sick," Harris said.

Harris became pregnant with her now-5-year-old daughter, Logan, while employed at the center and the girl later attended the day care daily.

"She had asthma; it was particularly bad there. She was sick all the time – runny nose, coughing, fever, unexplained fevers," Harris said. "Since we've been gone, she's not complained of anything."

On Monday, Harris, who is pregnant again, went to the doctor to have her and Logan tested for lead poisoning. She expects those test results Tuesday.

"I don't know what the repercussions for my daughter or myself are going to be from being in that environment," Harris said.

She's not alone. The Ridoutts told WRAL News that they've also had their children tested for lead poisoning.

Harris said many parents pulled their children out of the day care center before the county confirmed their suspicions that lead paint was present there.

"They would always tell me, 'It's the facility. We feel like something's not right here. We feel like we need to take out child out,'" Harris said.

In severe cases, lead poisoning can lead to coma, seizures and death. It interferes with the development of the nervous system, which can lead to learning and behavioral disorders, and is especially toxic for children.

Ridoutt's was given a superior sanitation classification, which is the highest available, from the Wake County Environmental Services department in March, before the flaking paint noted during the inspection tested positive for the presence of lead.