Test results released yesterday by Army officials indicated that none of the 278 Fort Belvoir children who were screened recently for lead poisoning has the ailment.
Fort Belvoir officials conducted a massive screening of children living in the Lewis Heights area of the base in southern Fairfax County three weeks ago after dangerously high levels of lead were discovered in paint samples taken from housing there.
Officals said 266 of the children were given clean bills of health after the initial screening. Blood samples from 12 of the youngsters were tested further after initially indicating possible symptoms of lead poisoning, said Fort Belvoir spokesman Jerry Childress.
"But none of the 12 resulted in positive results for abnormal lead content or any lead-related problems," said Childress. "A positive result on a screening test doesn't necessarily mean trouble with lead. It can be anemia or several other things."
Lead poisoning can cause anemia and sluggishness in children in its mildest forms and can cause learning disabilities and mental retardation in its most advanced stages. Although the high-lead content paints were outlawed more than a decade ago, lead poisoning is a nationwide problem, especially in areas with older housing.
In the case of Lewis Heights, high levels of lead were found in peeling paint on the walls of stairwells and basements in the 26-year-old housing units.
"Fort Belvoir officials are pleased with the favorable test results," said a statement released yesterday.
Childress said the testing of children living in Lewis Heights housing will continue because 82 children have not yet been screened. He said that some families were not at home during the three days that medical personnel went door to door conducting the blood tests. Other parents have refused to allow their children to be screened, Childress said.
The 278 youngsters tested represented a smaller number of children than Army officials had estimated live in Lewis Heights. Only children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years were tested because they were said to be most likely to ingest paint chips by eating them or by rubbing their fingers along flaking paint and then putting them in their mouths.