How Lead Awareness Helped This Family

While Libby and her husband are at work, their three children spend time at their grandmother's home. They love to play in the yard and sit on the front porch where neighbors, family, and friends stop by to enjoy each other’s company. 

Due to the age of her mother's home, Libby had concerns about her children being exposed to lead poisoning. She also wanted to address any concerns in her own family's home. She reached out to Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan, a community-based organization that helps families get connected to information and services about lead prevention and home repairs

Exposure to even low amounts of lead in children can cause irreversible neurological, developmental, and long-term health issues. As lead exposure increases, the range and seriousness of symptoms and effects also increase - children may be left with severe intellectual disability and behavioral disorders for the remainder of their lives. According to Kent County’s Lead Taskforce, this is a county-wide issue. Four out of five homes in Grand Rapids, and nearly three of five homes in Kent County, were built before 1978, the year lead was banned from paint.

Lead dust testing confirmed that the 111-year-old home of Libby's mother was found to have elevated levels of lead in the soil and on the front porch. Libby and her mother worked with a Housing Specialist at Healthy Homes Coalition to address the concerns. The action steps to reduce lead exposure included repainting the porch, planting grass seed, and practicing lead-safe cleaning. Healthy Homes Coalition provided education and supplies such as a special filtered vacuum cleaner, door mats, cleaning products, grass seeds, and other interventions to help eliminate lead concerns.

The Housing Specialist explained how these interventions are essential in reducing exposure to lead. Libby has taken what she has learned into her own home as well. Prevention is especially important to Libby, as she states, “I’m learning how to prevent other hazards and utilize information provided to me to keep my family safe and develop new ways to manage my home for years to come, with the hope of preventing my children from obtaining any issues going forward."

Healthy Homes has worked with Libby to create a healthier home for her and her family. She is more confident that her mother's home is now a space safe for her three children to spend time. Libby said that she feels genuinely empowered by her new knowledge about lead. 

This service is available because of the generosity of the Kent County taxpayers and the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage. Learn more about Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan.

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