Michigan Still Has a Lead Poisoning Crisis
An abundance of old houses, lead water service lines, crumbling infrastructure and industrial heritage create elevated risk for lead poisoning. First in Flint, and now in Benton Harbor, elevated levels of lead in majority Black communities have been found since 2018. Many children are poisoned in their homes from lead-contaminated dust, soil and paint chips. The Ecology Center has launched its Lead Impacted Family Training, a seven-month program for families affected by lead poisoning. If a home was built before 1978, it can be tested for lead.
There are no safe levels of lead. In 2019, more than 3,000 kids ages 6 and under in Michigan were found to have elevated lead in their blood, while thousands more went untested. The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention estimates that lead poisoning affects three-and-a-half million children per year. If absorbed into the body, lead can damage the brain and nervous system, resulting in learning and behavior problems, slow growth and development, and hearing and speech problems. It is critical to prevent children from coming into contact with this hazardous substance.
A call for statewide action addressing lead contamination resulted in the formation of the Childhood Lead Exposure Commission, which issued a set of recommendations to end lead poisoning in the state by providing funding to local health departments to investigate lead risks and 24 innovative pilot projects.
The Great Lakes Lead Elimination Network works with nonprofit partners from Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Pennsylvania to eliminate lead hazards in homes, schools, workplaces and other areas throughout the Great Lakes region. They engage with decision-makers regarding local- and state-level policy, and share resources to educate the public about avoiding lead.