Kalamaoo County

Environmental Health Division


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 250,000 U.S. children aged 1-5 years have blood lead levels greater than 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, the level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated. Lead poisoning often occurs with no obvious symptoms and can affect nearly every system in the body.

Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. The key is in stopping children from coming into contact with lead and treating children who have been poisoned by lead. Lead hazards in a child's environment must be identified and controlled or removed safely.

There are sources of funding for Kalamazoo County residents to help identify and correct lead hazards. Each program has specific requirements and individual applications.

MDHHS Michigan Department of Health & Human Services Healthy Homes Section Help For Lead Safe Homes

KNHS Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services limited grant funding for qualifying Kalamazoo Neighborhoods.

MSHDA PIP Michigan State Housing Development Authority Property Improvement Program

USDA Rural Development

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • How are children exposed to lead?

    Lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust are the main sources of exposure to lead in children. Although lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978, all houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint. It is the deterioration of this paint that causes problems. Approximately 24 million housing units have deteriorated leaded paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust. More than 4 million of these dwellings are homes to one or more young children.

  • What are the effects of lead poisoning?

    Exposure to lead can have a wide range of effect on a child's development and behavior. Even when exposed to small amounts of lead levels, children may appear inattentive, hyperactive and irritable. Children with higher lead levels may have problems with learning and reading, delayed growth and hearing loss. At very high levels, lead can cause permanent brain damage and even death.

  • Who is at risk?

    All children under the age of 6 years old are at risk because they are growing so rapidly and because they tend to put their hands or other objects into their mouths, which may be contaminated with lead dust. However, children living at or below the poverty line who live in older housing are at greatest risk.

  • What can be done to prevent exposure to lead?

    It is important to determine the construction year of the house or the dwelling where your child may spend a large amount of time (e.g., grandparents or daycare). In housing built before 1978, assume that the paint has lead unless tests show otherwise.
    • Consider testing paint and dust from your home for lead.
    • Consider testing bare soil in your yard where you have or want a garden.
    • Prevent children from playing in bare soil. Plant grass on areas of bare soil or cover the soil with grass seed, mulch, or wood chips. Until the bare soil is covered, parents should move play areas away from bare soil and away from the sides of the house.
    • Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.
    • Pregnant women and children should not be present in housing built before 1978 that is undergoing renovation. They should not participate in activities that disturb old paint or in cleaning up paint debris after work is completed.
    • When renovating a house built before 1978, insure the contractor has appropriate certification and training: Lead Inspector and RRP Training.
    • Create barriers between living/play areas and lead sources. Until environmental clean-up is completed, parents should clean and isolate all sources of lead. They should close and lock doors to keep children away from chipping or peeling paint on walls. You can also apply temporary barriers such as contact paper or duct tape, to cover holes in walls or to block children's access to other sources of lead.
    • Regularly wash children's hands and toys. Hands and toys can become contaminated from household dust or exterior soil. Both are known lead sources.
    • Regularly wet-mop floors and wet-wipe window components. Because household dust is a major source of lead, parents should wet-mop floors and wet-wipe horizontal surfaces every 2-3 weeks. Windowsills and window troughs can contain high levels of leaded dust. They should be kept clean. If feasible, windows should be shut to prevent abrasion of painted surfaces.

  • How can I further reduce my child's exposure from non-residential paint sources?

    • Avoid using traditional home remedies and cosmetics that may contain lead
    • Avoid eating candies imported from Mexico
    • Avoid using containers, cookware, or tableware to store or cook foods or liquids that are not known to be lead free
    • Remove recalled toys and toy jewelry immediately from children. Check the Lead Recall List frequently
    • Use only cold water from the tap for drinking, cooking, and for making baby formula (Hot water is more likely to contain higher levels of lead. Most of the lead in household water usually comes from the plumbing in your house, not from the local water supply)
    • Shower and change clothes after finishing a task that involves working with lead-based products such as stain glass work, bullet making, or using a firing range

    Have more questions? Contact us!

    Helpful Links:

    Michigan Department of Health & Human Services
    US Environmental Protection Agency
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    Lead Free Kids
    Lead Free Kids (Espanol)
    Lead Safe Home Program Application (PDF)

  • The Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department programs are open to all without regard to race, sex, color, national origin, religion, height, weight, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

    Links to external sites do not constitute endorsements by Kalamazoo County.