The Healthy Homes Coalition is committed to reducing home environmental hazards in their many forms. One of the pillars of Healthy Homes Coalition’s outreach is to decrease lead exposure and poisoning in children. Lead poisoning can slow down growth and development, cause hearing and speech difficulties, lower IQ, cause reduction of lifetime earnings and even cause higher rates of incarceration.
In West Michigan, lead in drinking water is less commonly identified as the primary route of exposure for children with elevated blood lead levels. Treated drinking water from the city’s water filtration plant is lead-free when it leaves the plant. When the drinking water reaches your home, lead particles can enter the drinking water from a lead water service line or the home’s plumbing. Before 1950, it was common for water service lines to be made of lead, so families may currently be exposed to lead through corroding lead service lines. Thanks to the Prioritizing Parents Initiative, Healthy Homes was able to provide filters, reusable water bottles, and educational materials to 35 qualifying Kent County families.
A recent study by the Kent County Health Department shows that almost one third of residents believe the leading cause of childhood lead poisoning is the water. In fact, 90% of lead poisoning cases in Kent County are caused by lead-based paint that deteriorates into dust that is inhaled or ingested. Three out of five homes in Kent County and over 83% of homes in Grand Rapids were built before 1978, the year lead paint was banned. Our work encapsulates reducing lead exposure from all sources.
Our goal is to create a space where education concerning lead prevention is no longer needed. We aim to ensure long-term policies are intact to reduce disparities and eliminate harmful hazards so that children have the best opportunity to grow in a home safe and healthy.
For more information about testing water and lead service lines, you can contact our office at (616) 241-3300.