BALDWIN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A pre-school student on Long Island has lead poisoning and officials say it may be traced to the child’s public school.

Lead-based paint has been banned since 1978, but when old buildings crumble, layers of the feared paint can surface.

That’s why Nassau County officials are going public with a warning: A youngster at the Shubert School in Baldwin tested positive for lead poisoning and the investigation found lead paint chips outside the school entrance, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Tuesday.

“We don’t want there to be a panic. The risk here is very low,” county Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein said. “What we are saying is we found a hazard. We want the parents of other children who go to this school to know that their children might have been exposed and we want them to discuss it with their medical provider.”

Chipping lead paint appears to be a problem at a Nassau County school. (Photo: CBS2)

As CBS2’s Gusoff reported, peeling paint can still be seen at the school, but the main entrance has a new coat of primer. Letters are going out to the 180 Uniondale families that use the pre-K program. Dozens of Nassau children are diagnosed with lead poisoning each year, but it is usually traced to homes, not schools. That’s why Nassau County Executive Laura Curran is advising vigilance.

“It’s very simple. If you see something, say something. A lot of our school buildings were built before 1978. If you see that there is chipping; If you see that there is any issue at all, talk to your school superintendent,” Curran said.

Experts say lead exposure is dangerous to developing brains and can cause learning and behavioral problems, slowed growth and even a lowered IQ, Gusoff reported.

“Working against us is the fact that lead paint is sweet by taste, so for small children with developing nervous systems they can see it as candy,” Eisenstein said.

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As a precaution, children are using a side door at the school as parents are learning of the danger.

“He could be poisoned or something. I’m just concerned,” one parent said.

“I believe they will do the right thing,” another parent said.

The district is now working with the health department to come up with a lead abatement plan. In the meantime, it is doing daily cleaning, picking up falling and blowing paint chips.

Health officials said they found no lead risk inside the school.

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