Kalamaoo County

Environmental Health


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

Lead Testing

Blood Lead Level Testing of Children or Adults please contact your Primary Care Provider

Home Lead Testing contact the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (888) 322-4453

Lead and Water Testing contact the municipality or management of the mobile home park and/or apartment complex if you are on a municipal water supply. Contact the Health & Community Services Department if you are on a private water well. For a listing of Municipal and Management contacts please click here.

Lead Poisoning Case Management

By referral only. Case management of confirmed cases of lead poisoning. Public health nurse home visits for assessment and education.

Referrals made by MDHHS as well as by hospitals, community clinics, and private physicians.

Outreach and Coordination with local Lead Hazard Control Programs.

Presentations for groups interested in learning about the sources, implications and prevention of lead poisoning and educational resources for parents, caregivers and homeowners.

More Information about Lead:

A Guide to Lead Sampling for Schools and Daycares
A Healthy Home for Everyone
Are You Pregnant? Prevent Lead Poisoning.
Lead Poisoning Words to Know from A to Z
5 Things you can do to help lower your child's lead level.

Frequently Asked Questions:

(Click the to view answers)

What is lead (Pb)?

Lead is a naturally occurring element found in small amounts in the earth's crust. Lead is also a common metal found throughout the environment in lead-based paint, air, soil, household dust, food, and water. While it has some beneficial uses, it can be toxic to humans and animals causing harmful health effects.

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

Lead & Water:

      Printable PDF

How does lead get into my drinking water?

Lead present in drinking water is rarely the result of its dissolution from natural sources. It is mainly due to household plumbing systems containing lead pipes, solders, and fittings. Lead can enter drinking water as a result of corrosion, or wearing away of materials containing lead in the water distribution system. The highest levels of lead occur when very corrosive water stands motionless and comes in contact with lead pipe or lead solder for long periods of time.

How do I know if my drinking water is contaminated with lead?

You cannot see, taste, or smell lead in drinking water. The only way to know if your drinking water contains lead is to sample the water and have it tested. To determine your household risk, it is recommended to take a "first draw sample".

What does it mean to take a "first draw sample"?

The definition of a first draw sample is a sample that is taken first in the morning before the tap in the premise has been used for other purposes. During the stagnation period (at least 6 hours) no water should be drawn from any outlet within the property (this includes flushing of toilets).

For proper sampling, the water must sit in your pipes for at least 6 hours, can only be taken from a water faucet that is representative of your drinking water, and not be connected to a water softener or filter.

What can I do to reduce or eliminate lead in my drinking water?

If your home was built prior to 1987, you may consider replacing old pipes, service lines, and faucets to limit the lead in your drinking water. New pipes, solder, and faucets should meet EPA lead-free standards. If you have municipal water, contact your municipality's public works department to determine if the service line piping that goes into your home is lead-free.

When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before using your water for drinking or cooking. Use only water from the cold-water tap for drinking, cooking, and especially for making baby formula. Hot water is likely to contain higher levels because it dissolves more lead.

You may choose to install a water filter that is NSF-certified for lead removal. If a water filter is installed, replace filters at least as often as recommended by the manufacturer. If a filter is installed and utilized, sampling is still recommended to assure water quality.

When was lead prohibited (banned) from use in plumbing and plumbing fixtures?

Section 1417 of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) prohibits the "use of any pipe, any pipe or plumbing fitting or fixture, any solder, or any flux, after June 1986, in the installation or repair of (i) any public water system; or (ii) any plumbing in a residential or non-residential facility providing water for human consumption, that is not lead free."

Additionally, the SDWA also prohibits introducing a pipe, any pipe or plumbing fitting or fixture, any solder, or any flux that is not lead free into commerce; unless the use is for manufacturing or industrial purposes.

The SDWA includes several exemptions from the lead free requirements, specifically for plumbing devices that are used exclusively for non-potable services, as well as a list of specific products: toilets, bidets, urinals, fill valves, flushometer valves, fire hydrants, tub fillers, shower valves, service saddles, or water distribution main gate valves that are 2 inches in diameter or larger.

Who do I contact for more information on lead and water testing?

If you are on municipal water, the municipality or management of the mobile home park / apartment complex should be the first place to start.

  • City of Kalamazoo - 269-337-8440
  • City of Portage - 269-329-4422
  • City of Parchment - 269-344-6400
  • City of Galesburg - 269-665-7213
  • For the following jurisdictions, contact the public works / water department.
    • Charleston Township - 269-665-7805
    • Village of Augusta - 269-731-4717
    • Village of Climax - 269-746-4174
    • Village of Schoolcraft - 269-679-4304
    • Village of Vicksburg - 269-649-1919
  • For the following apartment complexes / mobile home communities / other community water supplies, contact management.
    • Alamo Nursing Home - 269-343-2587
    • Andrews Estates - 269-665-9122
    • Boerman Mobile Village - Unknown Number
    • Climax Mobile Home Park - 269-746-4484
    • Evergreen Park - 269-342-5496
    • Kellogg Biological Station - 269-671-5117
    • Nazarene Camp - 269-649-2281
    • Plainwell Pines - 269-349-6649
    • Portage Terrace - 269-327-2093
    • Royal Estates - 269-349-5350
    • Sugarloaf Mobile Home Park - 269-679-5087
    • Sun Meadows Apartments - 269-649-0211
  • All municipal water supplies are required to comply with the Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) Rule, which requires community water supplies to annually report to their customers on the quality of the drinking water and the sources of that water, and to characterize the risks (if any) from exposure to contaminants detected in the water. To obtain a copy of this report, contact your municipal water supplier.

If you are on a private water well, contact the Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department at 269-373-5336.

What can I do if I am connected to a private, residential water well?

Homes built before 1987 are more likely to have pipes, fittings, faucets, and solder that contain lead. Additionally, depending on the age of your water well, a lead packer may have been installed. Contact Environmental Health at 269-373-5336 to discuss sample recommendations and costs.

Where do I go for more information?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency provides information about drinking water and ground water programs authorized under the Safe Drinking Water Act. You can contact the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 or go to http://www.epa.gov/your-drinking-water/safe-drinking-water-hotline to ask an online question.


Have more questions? Contact us!
Childhood Lead Exposure (269) 373-5267
Environmental Lead Concerns (269) 373-5336

Helpful Links:

Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS)
Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
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.