Lead Poisoning Prevention

Baby crawling Even prior to the Flint water crisis, the annual cost of lead exposure in Michigan children is approximately was $330 million, $145 million of which is being paid each year by taxpayers. Learn more about the pre-Flint crisis costs of lead exposure in Michigan here. 

70% of lead poisoned children in Ingham County live in rental housing, yet no local units of government in Ingham County, including City of Lansing, require lead clearance as part of their rental inspection or licensing programs. This is a preventative measure that could prevent hundreds of lead poisoning cases in Ingham County each year. Click here to learn about how other cities are making sure rental properties are lead-safe in affordable and responsible ways.

How do I find out if my child has lead poisoning?

  • The ONLY way to know for sure if your child has lead poisoning is with a blood test. 
  • Testing is available through your doctor’s office or the Ingham County Health Department. 
  • Call (517)887-4322 for more information. 
  • For other counties in Michigan, visit michigan.gov/leadsafe

Testing Your House for Lead

If you have a child under six or a pregnant woman living in your home and you are low-to-moderate income, you may be eligible to receive financial assistance to test your home for lead and make it lead-safe. Rental property owners may also receive financial assistance to make properties lead-safe (vacant properties may qualify as long as you agree to promote the home to families with children). To learn more, visit www.michigan.gov/leadsafe. Here is the application, also in Spanish and Arabic

If you do not qualify for the financial assistance program, you can still get your house tested by hiring a certified Lead Inspector/Risk Assessor. Getting your house tested will help you prioritize which areas need work and how to prevent exposure to those areas. 

Healthy Homes Basics

Sesame Street Lead Link

Lead Safe Cleaning

A great instructional video on how to safely clean homes with lead-based paint can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwyt744iX7Y
Get Kids Tested 

ALL CHILDREN WHO LIVE IN HOMES BUILT BEFORE 1978 NEED TO BE TESTED FOR LEAD, especially between the ages of 0 and 6. Ingham County Health Department offers this testing frequency recommendations document. 

For help getting health insurance or a doctor, call Ingham County Health Department's Registration and Enrollment team at 517-887-4306.

  • If your child receives a capillary (finger prick) test result at or above 3.5µg/DL, it is recommended that they receive a veinous (blood draw) test to verify their level. If they continue to test at 3.5 µg/DL and above, follow the guidelines below regarding nutrition, cleaning, removing sources of lead exposure from the child's environment.
  • No level of lead in the human body is safe or healthy. Striving for the lowest level possible is advised.
Lead Poisoning in Ingham County
  • The #1 source of lead hazards is dust from lead paint in homes built before 1978.
  • It only takes a teaspoon of lead dust in a 1200 square foot house to harm a child, and over 60% of homes in Ingham County were built before lead paint was banned in 1978. 
  • Click here for a map showing "hot spot" areas for childhood lead poisoning from 2008-2012, and homes made safe through the Lead Safe Lansing program. 
  • Ingham County Health Department works closely with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, City of Lansing, and Michigan Alliance for Lead Safe Housing to reduce childhood lead poisoning. 
  • In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control changed the "level of concern" regarding Elevated Blood Lead Levels. Previously, interventions were recommended at a level of 5 µg/DL. However, due to impacts on evidence of impairments in learning and behavior at even lower levels, the intervention level was changed to 3.5 µg/DL. Read more here about these changes from the CDC.
Man using XRF machine to test for lead

Get a Lead Inspection/Risk Assessment of your home, or an EBLL investigation and remove lead hazards:

  • These are slightly different kinds of inspections. LI/RA is only looking at the home. EBLL investigation is looking at all possible sources of lead exposure in a child's daily activities in and outside of the home. A Lead Inspection/Risk Assessment typically costs less than a full EBLL investigation. Because the #1 cause of lead poisoning in Michigan is dust from lead paint, a LI/RA will often, though not always, reveal the sources of exposure to hazards. 
  • Michigan Department of Health and Human Services offers grants through the Lead Safe Home Program to provide inspections and abatement resources. These grants are available for both owner and renter-occupied properties. Income restrictions apply to residents of the property. 
  • State law requires owners of rental property to make property lead-safe if a child occupying the property is found to have an elevated blood lead level as a result of hazards in the property. State and county officials enforce this rule and will assist in cases to ensure compliance. Enforcement of the Michigan Public Act 434 of 2004 is handled by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Ingham County Prosecutor. 

Follow Lead-Safe Renovation and Repair Practices:

  • If renovation or repair work is being done on your home that disturbs lead-based paint (likely if your home was built before 1978), this work should be done by a EPA certified lead-safe renovator. Find a lead-safe certified firm at www.epa.gov/lead 
  • Contractors, property managers and landlords who disturb lead-based paint in the process of painting, renovating or repairing homes, schools or daycare centers built before 1978 MUST be "RRP certified" and follow "RRP lead safe work practices."
  • Landlords or contractors working without certification or compliance with approved practices can be punished with fines and lawsuits initiated by consumers and/or EPA. 

Less Common, but Possible Sources of Lead Poisoning

What else do I need to know about lead poisoning?

Possible Symptoms of Lead Poisoning may include:
  • Irritability 
  • Inability to pay attention 
  • Quick frustration 
  • Stomach ache and cramps 
  • Fatigue 
  • Frequent vomiting 
  • Constipation 
  • Headache 
  • Sleep disorders 
  • Poor appetite 
  • Clumsiness or weakness 
  • Loss of recently acquired skills 
  • Sudden changes in behavior

The absence of symptoms does NOT mean a child does not have lead poisoning. Most children with lead poisoning show no symptoms.

Lead is Especially Dangerous to Children Under the Age of 6
  • Children’s brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. 
  • Children’s growing bodies absorb more lead. 
  • Lead can cause nervous system and kidney damage. 
  • Lead can lead to learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, and decreased intelligence. 
  • Lead can cause decreased muscle and bone growth, and poor muscle coordination. 
  • Lead can cause hearing damage. 
  • Pregnant women with high lead levels in their system would expose a fetus during development.
How Do I Find Out If My Child has Lead Poisoning?
  • The ONLY way to know for sure if your child has lead poisoning is with a blood test. 
  • Testing is available through your doctor’s office or the Ingham County Health Department. 
  • Call (517)887-4322 for more information. 
  • For other counties in Michigan, visit michigan.gov/leadsafe

For additional questions, contact the Ingham County Health Department Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 517-887-4479