Here at Healthy Homes, we have a small, but mighty volunteer force. And, possibly no volunteer is more known around the offices as a go-to helper than Alex Markham. She has been a very regular giver of time, talent, and passion over the past three years, and we are thankful to have her as part of the team.
In Case of Emergency
If a child has severe symptoms of lead poisoning, such as vomiting or seizures, get immediate help by calling 911. If a child is suspected of being exposed to lead, make an appointment with the child's health care provider or county health department to have a blood test done.
Fixing Lead Hazards
Most homes and apartments built before 1978 have lead-based paint. Making your units are lead-safe today, protects your investment long into the future. Lead-safe units are less likely to result in:
- Local code-enforcement citations
- Condemnation by the county for lead-based paint hazards
- Prosecution under Michigan law for providing housing that poisons a child
- Federal Title X infractions
- Civil litigation by tenants with lead-poisoned children.
Families are increasingly seeking lead-safe units for their children. Offering lead-safe units with new windows and fresh paint makes your business competitive. Simply put, lead-safe housing makes good business sense!
The Grand Rapids community has numerous resources to help rental-property owners make and keep their income property lead-safe. The Healthy Homes Coalition recommends that landlords take the following three steps at all of their rental properties:
- Assess the property for lead hazards.
- Fix existing lead hazards.
- Implement a maintenance plan, using lead-safe work practices, that keeps properties in good repair.
Assessing Your Properties
The Healthy Homes Coalition recommends that landlords start by having their properties assessed for lead hazards. Only when you know where the hazards are can you take action to fix them. There are both moral and legal consequences when a child is poisoned in your home. Not knowing about lead is not a defense for the civil penalties that have been designed to protect children.
Healthy Homes recommends that landlords hire a third-party to get a combination Risk Assessment / Inspection report. This report will tell you where the lead-based paint is, whether it is in hazardous condition, and will make recommendations for appropriate yet cost-effective repair. The Michigan Department of Community Health provides a list of currently certified risk assessors and inspectors.
If you choose not to hire a third-party inspector, at the very least you should conduct a visual inspection at each of your properties twice a year. Be thorough, inspecting inside and out. Look for peeling and chipping paint. Watch for friction surfaces like windows and doors that are rubbing and creating lead dust. Make sure there is no bare soil around the home.
Fixing Lead Hazards
Making home repairs to fix lead hazards is a job best left to fully trained, state-licensed professionals. However, many landlords choose to make repairs on their own or to have them made by their maintenance staff or property management contractor. If you, your staff or your agents are considering making repairs, be sure to get training in lead-safe work practices. The federal Renovate Right rule administered by the US-EPA requires that all landlords doing work in that disturbs painted surfaces in pre-1978 housing be trained and certified. Not doping so could make you liable to costly fines and penalties.
If you are hiring general repairs that will disturb painted surfaces, be sure to compare at least three bids and ask the contractors is they are certified under the Renovate Right rule. If you are hiring contractors specifically to abate lead-based paint, consult the "Lead Removal" section of the yellow pages. Make sure you check each contractor's certification with the State of Michigan to ensure it is current. The Michigan Department of Community Health provides a list of currently certified contractors.
The primary sources for financing lead-hazard repair work for landlords in the City of Grand Rapids is the City of Grand Rapids' Get the Lead Out! Lead Hazard Control Program. This program offers landlords grants to make lead-hazard repairs. Eligible units must be in the City of Grand Rapids, be home to a child 0-5 years of age or vacant, and rented to a low-income family. For more information, contact the Healthy Homes Coalition.
Implementing a Maintenance Plan
Even after you make repairs, an annual visual inspection is still recommended. Paint fails. Some repairs come undone. Remodeling can expose hidden lead-based paint.
Schedule annual inspections and make sure you and/or your maintenance staff are fully trained in lead-safe work practices. Doing so will protect you and your investment.
Did You Know...
Lead-based paint, lead dust, and lead in the soil are the cause of nine out of ten childhood lead poisoning cases in Kent County, Michigan.
A list of State of Michigan Certified Lead Inspectors and Risk Assessors in the (616) area code as of 9/13/2018.
This fall, Healthy Homes is starting a new lead education program to help any local family who wants to learn more about lead, and how to manage lead hazards in their home.
Hugo Claudin is the newest full-time staff member in the Healthy Homes direct services department. He will be working directly with families struggling with environmental hazards in their homes, visiting them, making action plans for them, and building relationships with them. Hugo brings a unique perspective and experience to this position. Before coming here, he previously worked for Spectrum Health, LINC, and The Red Project, all in a community health capacity. He is also a well-known artist and musician, and an all-around interesting guy.