Arkansas is following the lead of several other states aiming to test for lead in schools and early childhood centers
The department received a $450,000 grant from the U.S. EPA for the lead testing.
Schools and day care centers can apply to participate in the program beginning in late March, according to Tim Cain, director of the Arkansas Division of Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation. Bids for the voluntary program will be ranked based on the age group served and the age of the building.
Money was provided through a federal lead-testing program established by the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, reported the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
"We are taking additional steps to identify and reduce lead contamination in schools," said Ken McQueen, the regional EPA administrator for Arkansas and neighboring states in a statement. "Preventing children from exposure to lead is an important public health priority for this administration."
The money has been fully disbursed to the Arkansas Department of Education, reported the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Every state in the nation applied for this funding and grants are still being awarded.
The state's education and health departments developed a bid invitation for a testing lab that will provide testing materials and training for schools and early childhood sites.
"Arkansas has an extensive lead testing program for communities in Arkansas," said Cain. "This currently does not include school and early childhood sites. There has not been a recent widespread lead testing program for schools and early childhood sites."