On Thursday, April 25, the Kent County Board of Commissioners approved funding for two staff positions to investigate homes that are lead-poisoning children. Landlords who fail to act to be held accountable.
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.
Hundreds of Kent County children are needlessly poisoned by lead every year. To help children thrive and succeed in life, we need to ensure that the homes where they live are free from lead hazards. Lead poisoning is 100% preventable. If homes are made lead safe, children will be protected.
What is Lead?
Lead is a naturally occurring metal that has been added to various products, most notably lead-based paint.
When ingested, lead travels through the blood stream to the brain, nervous system, kidneys, and other organs. Lead can then be stored in bones, leading to long-term exposure.
Since 1978, Federal and State regulations have banned the sale of lead-based paint. However, lead is still found in the majority of older homes and in the soil around them.
An estimated 90% of all childhood lead poisoning cases in Kent County are the result of deteriorating lead-based paint and lead dust found in the home. This dangerous dust can be found in any home built before 1978, the year lead-based paint was banned. More than 85% of the housing stock in the City of Grand Rapids, and many others throughout Kent County, were built before 1978.
Who is at Risk?
Infants and toddlers have the highest risk of being lead poisoned, especially when they begin to crawl and become mobile. All children living in older homes or high-risk communities should be tested at their one and two-year well child visits.
There are no reliable symptoms of lead poisoning. Waiting for symptoms is dangerous, as visible symptoms come too late —after long-lasting damage to the child. Instead of relying on symptoms, parents should get a blood test for their child at one and two years of age as recommended.
Lead poisoning in children causes life-long brain damage. Even small amounts of lead can have negative effects on children:
- Brain damage
- Poor physical growth and development
- Social problems
- Behavioral problems
- Problems in school, learning disabilities
Lead poisoning is 100% preventable! Making homes lead-safe prevents children from being poisoned.
To learn more about making homes lead-safe, contact the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan at (616) 241-3300.
Did You Know...
Childhood lead poisoning causes irreversible brain damage, but is 100% preventable!
A list of State of Michigan Certified Lead Inspectors and Risk Assessors in the (616) area code as of 9/13/2018.
Guidance from the Michigan Department of Community Health about testing children for lead poisoning.
Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units on how to respond to children whose blood lead test results are higher than 5.0 micrograms per deciliter.
Lead Safe Cleaning(1.3 MB)
A guide to lead-safe cleaning that helps reduce lead dust levels in the home.
Check Your House for Lead(324 KB)
A checklist to make sure your house is lead-safe.
Guide to Lead Safe Renting(446 KB)
What to look for when shopping for a new apartment or rental home.
MDHHS Lead Safe Home Program(279 KB)
A Michigan Department of Community Health program that offers inspections and repairs for lead. City of Grand Rapids residents should click here instead.
Lead Paint Safety(1.4 MB)
A Field Guide for Painting, Home Maintenance and Renovation Work. Great guide for DIY home renovation.
Little Louian's recently renovated home was in good condition, yet there were still things about the home environment that triggered Louian's asthma. Things had gotten so out of control that Louian ended up in the emergency room four times in a year. Healthy Homes provided Louian's mom with the knowledge, skills, and tools she needed to take action.
But this is just one of many families in need of support. Asthma attacks are the leading reason kids are going to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital’s emergency room. We need to do more to keep children like Louian from hurting, and we can with your help.
In November of 2018, the World Health Organization stepped firmly into the healthy housing world when it released its WHO Housing and Health Guidelines. While local conditions are different all over the world, the strategies WHO suggests are universal and certainly apply to Grand Rapids.