The presence of lead in decaying paint and dust is the number one source of lead poisoning in children. In total, 90 percent of all elevated blood lead levels result from lead paint dust and surrounding soil in homes built prior to 1978. Elevated blood lead levels cause irreversible brain damage in children including reduced cognitive ability, neurological damage, endocrine system disruption, growth rate reduction, aggressive behavior and hearing impairment. Unborn babies and youth under six years old are at the greatest risk. In addition to the medical risks, an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute estimates that every dollar spent on controlling lead hazards returns between $17 and $221 in avoided health care costs, lost lifetime earnings and tax revenue, reduced criminal behavior, and other benefits. An estimated 6,786 children under age six across Michigan currently have lead levels above the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention action level.
The MDCH Lead Safe Home Program provides necessary lead testing of homes and lead hazard control services through the use of a State of Michigan lead-certified contractor. Common work on homes includes window and door replacement, vinyl siding, painting, soil work and special cleaning. A family or property owner may be eligible for assistance if they meet the following criteria: a child under six years old or pregnant female resides in the home; the occupying family is low or moderate income; the home was built before 1978; and the home is located in the county of Bay, Calhoun, Hillsdale, Ingham, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Macomb, Oakland or the city of Detroit, or elsewhere if the child has an elevated blood lead level (five or above). Other certain criteria may apply, as well.