Number of Children Lead Poisoned in Grand Rapids Rises


The number of children lead poisoned in Kent County and Grand Rapids rose for the first time in more than 15 years in 2015.

In 2014, there were 470 children 0-5 years of age in Kent County with elevated blood lead levels ≥5.0 ug/dL. In 2015, that number rose to 610 children.

The story is the same for young children 0-5 years of age in Grand Rapids and in Kent County's three most at-risk zip codes.

City of Grand Rapids

While in Michigan, 3.5% of children tested have elevated blood lead levels, in Kent County, than number rises to 6.2%. In Grand Rapids, it is 11.0%, and in the 49507 zip code, it is an astounding 14.0% - nearly one out of every seven children tested.

The Healthy Homes Coalition received this data on March 8, 2016 and shared it with the public at our Town Hall meeting on March 10. On March 14, the Healthy Homes Coalition and the Kent County Health Department followed up with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to seek an explanation for the increase in lead poisoned children in Kent County.

The State has agreed to look into two initial possibilities: 1) that the increase can be explained by a change in testing procedure at a local provider or lab, and 2) that the increase may be geographically constrained. The State will investigate ten-year data patterns for all Kent County zip codes. The Healthy Homes Coalition hopes to have more information from the State in April.

The Healthy Homes Coalition has also suggested that the State investigate for possible anomalies by season and by race or ethnicity of the children tested to rule out possible connections to cultural practices (food, homeopathic remedies, consumer products) and barriers to service due to language.

The Healthy Homes Coalition will make additional information public as it becomes available.

2015 Data Sheet Shared at the March 10 Town Hall Meeting