Take steps to protect against lead exposure at home

As part of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is reminding Michiganders about the sources of lead in and around their homes, and how to protect their health.

Lead can be found in soil, chipping and peeling paint, drinking water if supplied by lead pipes, certain home remedies, and is used in some hobbies and occupations.

“Everyone should know about the risks of lead and how to prevent exposure,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health. “For children and pregnant women, lead exposure is especially dangerous because it can impact a child’s developing brain or lead to miscarriages or preterm birth. Parents should talk to their healthcare provider about getting their child a lead test and learn about ways to make their homes lead safe.”

There are several things residents can do to mitigate, reduce or eliminate those exposures. A state website — Michigan.gov/MILeadSafe — provides a one-stop-shop on lead, lead hazards and mitigation steps. It also has links to important community resources and information for families.

Some simple steps people can take to protect their families from lead include:

— Take off shoes before going into a home to avoid tracking lead-containing soil and dust from outside.

— Vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filtered vacuum.

— Wash hands before eating to keep from accidentally swallowing lead dust.

— Keep paint in good repair; fix chipping or cracked paint right away and hire a certified lead professional to test the home and help with home repairs and renovation in houses built before 1978.

— Install NSF-certified filters on faucets and only use cold water for drinking or cooking.

— Run water before using it for drinking or cooking — also called flushing the lines.

— Eat healthy foods with calcium, iron and vitamin C to limit the amount of lead that gets into the body.

Last year, Michigan adopted one of the nation’s toughest lead rules for drinking water. It requires removal of lead service lines and lowers the action level that determines when public water supplies must take steps to reduce the corrosiveness of the water they supply. Additionally, the rule imposes more stringent drinking water sampling requirements designed to provide municipalities with more accurate readings of potential lead exposure in communities.

Testing this year has discovered lead exceedances in several communities across the state, including Benton Harbor, Birmingham, Clare, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, Hampton Township, Harper Woods, Hazel Park, Highland Park, Leslie, Melvindale, Oak Park, Parchment and White Lake Township.

MDHHS is providing filters in those affected communities for households that have a child or pregnant woman and also receive WIC benefits, Medicaid insurance or cannot afford a water filter. Additionally, the department is investigating lead sources in homes, referring eligible families with lead in homes to abatement programs and providing support to local public health agencies.

For more information about lead, go to Michigan.gov/MILeadSafe.


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