Get The Lead Out! cleans up 1,000th Grand Rapids home; 78% fewer children have lead poisoning

One thousand Grand Rapids homes are lead-free, thanks to the City of Grand Rapids Get The Lead Out! campaign. While that's an impressive fact, perhaps the more telling impact on the city's future is that nearly 78 percent fewer of the city's children contracted lead poisoning last year.

Grand Rapids saw 64 new pediatric cases of lead poisoning reported in 2010, compared to 279 children afflicted in 2003, says Paul Haan. Haan is the executive director of Healthy Homes Coalition and the Get The Lead Out! program coordinator for Grand Rapids. He says the decrease in cases means a brighter future for the city because more children will grow up without the brain damage caused by lead poisoning.

The leading cause of lead poisoning is lead-based paint, which is in many homes built before 1978 when lead paint was banned. Haan says some 90 percent of Grand Rapids lead poisoning cases are one- and two-year-olds who crawl and play on the floor, get lead paint dust on their hands and then put their hands in their mouths.

"In 2001, almost two of every five kids in the Baxter neighborhood had lead poisoning," Haan says. "Now it's down to about one out of 50 kids."

Besides making the homes environmentally safer, Haan says that many homeowners invest another $4,800 in other repairs, such as, replacing faulty plumbing and electrical, getting energy efficient HVAC systems and fixing leaky roofs.

"We have old houses in Grand Rapids and if we want to keep a healthy, vibrant city to attract new homeowners and young people, they have to be energy efficient," Haan says. "A thousand homes have been given new life. This has a phenomenal impact on the future of Grand Rapids that other Rust Belt cities can't offer."

Haan says the program is ongoing. For more information click here. To learn about lead-safe home repair classes click here.

Source: Paul Haan, Get The Lead Out! and Healthy Homes Coalition; Stacy Spitler, Spitler Communications
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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