GR neighborhoods leading MI for most lead-poisoned kids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A couple neighborhoods in Grand Rapids are leading the state for the most lead-poisoned children in 2013, according to a report by the Michigan Department of Community Health.

The report reveals the neighborhoods in the ‘49507’ zip code on the southeast side of the city have the highest number of kids with lead poisoning.

Lead dust and paint chips found in the interiors and on the exteriors of homes built before 1978 can be ingested by small children living in and playing around these homes. More than 85 percent of the houses in the City of Grand Rapids were built before 1978, the year lead-based paint was banned.

Organizers with the “Get the Lead Out!” program is launching its public awareness campaign on Monday.

The program provides special funding for safely removing childhood lead poisoning hazards from eligible homes in Grand Rapids. Since the program started 10 years ago, Get the Lead Out! has made more than 1,350 homes in Grand Rapids lead-safe.

To be considered for the funding, homeowners and landlords must meet the following qualifications:

  • Those living with children ages five or younger in Grand Rapids homes with lead-based paint can apply for the program. For a family of four to qualify for the program, annual household income must be below $50,500.
  • Qualifying homeowners are eligible for zero-percent interest “matching” loans, up to $12,000, to help make their homes lead-safe.
  • Qualifying rental property owners are eligible for grants of up to $10,000 for the first unit repaired and $4,000 for additional units in the same building.
  • Applications should be received by December 1.

Since four out of every five children lead poisoned in Grand Rapids are between the ages of one and two years, parents of children who live in the city of Grand Rapids are encouraged to have their children tested for lead at 12 and 24 months of age, according to Michigan Department of Community Health screening guidelines.

Parents outside of Grand Rapids who live in pre-1978 housing are also encouraged to have children tested at those ages.

If there is a lead-poisoned child in a Grand Rapids home, all repairs are made for free under the Get the Lead Out! program.

Get the Lead Out! has had a direct impact on improving health outcomes of children in the area. In 2004, the year home repairs began, 2,666 Grand Rapids children 0-5 years of age were identified with elevated blood lead levels. In 2013, 426 Grand Rapids children tested above that level, an 84 percent reduction.

The number of children in Kent County with lead poisoning in 2012 was one and a half times the national rate, according to the Kent County Health Department.

In 2013, 5.3 percent of Kent County children birth through age five had blood lead levels above the Center for Disease Control’s reference level – enough to cause neurological damage and learning disabilities. That translates into 551 children in Kent County who were identified with elevated lead levels in 2013 alone.

Applications for the Get the Lead Out! program are available at the following locations:

  • City Hall, 300 Monroe Ave NW, 4th Floor
  • Kent County Health Department, 700 Fuller Ave NE
  • Healthy Homes Coalition, 742 Franklin St SE
  • Most Grand Rapids neighborhood associations
  • Online at www.GetTheLeadOutGR.orq  


Online: Get the Lead Out!

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