Tuesday, April 16, 2019

High Lead Exposures Cause Families to Evacuate Homes

Did you know it costs $5,000-$20,000 to remove lead from a home? Many residents don’t have this kind of money to eliminate lead hazards in their homes. In the alternative, moving and trying to find a lead-safe home may not be easy either. Relocation costs can restrict low-income families from moving to safer housing and may be hard to find. Keeping in mind that each case is different, the average relocation cost in Detroit is $2,000 per family and this includes application fees, first month’s rent, moving costs, and utility turn-on.

In Cleveland, Ohio, state grants are now available to families in need of financial help to relocate to lead safe homes. The grants up to $1,500 are centered on short term emergencies for low-income families with children or pregnant women. Prior to June of 2018, Ohio families could apply for assistance but had to show proof that they were being evicted. The requirements have changed and the county now accepts multiple forms of proof of need. This kind of program may be a good fit for Michigan families feeling trapped by a home with too high of costs to make lead safe.

Currently in Michigan, childhood lead poisoning is being addressed through a pilot program in Detroit. Mary Sue Schottenfels and her team from ClearCorps are spearheading this pilot. She will comment on the current Detroit pilot program where families are spending less money by relocating rather than abating their homes at an upcoming MIALSH monthly coalition call.

It is important to note that relocation is cheaper than abatement if there is safe housing to move families to in their communities. The average cost to lead abate a home in Michigan is $25,000 but in cities with larger housing, such as Detroit, it is much higher. The dollar amount depends on the number of windows, doors, corroded pipes, amount of siding, lead-based paint and increases the more square footage the house has. Although lead removal is expensive, these remedies are capable of lasting up to 20 years, yet need to be re-checked annually depending on which abatement activities were completed. Lead abatement may not be the solution for every family so we need to keep other alternatives on the table while trying to be frugal with our dollars. That is why the Detroit relocation pilot is so important.

For more information on the ongoing relocation pilot program in Detroit, check out this link:

Monday, April 1, 2019

2019 Lead Education Day Rocks the Capitol

Our 9th annual Lead Education Day at the Michigan State Capitol had another great turnout with over 100 participants RSVPd from all areas of Michigan. Our goal was to educate Legislators on the issues of lead poisoning in the state. Coordinated by the Michigan Alliance for Lead Safe Homes (MIALSH) and the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC), the day was filled with meaningful conversations with lawmakers, a keynote speaker, a parents’ perspective all in the historic Boji Tower, and many networking opportunities.

The event included 16 teams with a knowledgeable team leader as we met with at least 70 legislative offices.  Each group was purposefully organized to consist of diverse geography considering the experience of the individuals. Team members shared their knowledge with lawmakers and their staff on MIALSH policy priorities. Some of these topics included universal lead testing for all Michigan children aged one and two, finding dedicated funding, and lead-based paint inspections for properties built before 1978 intended for occupancy. Teams also provided all members of the State Senate and State House offices folders full of valuable articles on current lead poisoning and prevention findings and data.

Our annual Lead Education Day is a fun and purposeful way for the voices of engaged Michiganders to be heard by legislators. We hope to see our efforts prompt positive change and success around these critical issues of lead poisoning prevention and look forward to next year’s event!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Join Us at the Capitol to Help End Lead Poisoning in Michigan

Come join us for Lead Education Day on Thursday, March 14th from 8:00am to 4:00pm at the Michigan State Capitol! This event will be coordinated by the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) and members from the Michigan Alliance for Lead Safe Homes (MIALSH).  We will be educating lawmakers on how to end the issues of childhood lead poisoning in Michigan. This event includes:
·         Joining small teams with a seasoned team leader and meeting with state legislative leaders to share knowledge about lead poisoning prevention opportunities and challenges in Michigan
·         A light breakfast and a hot lunch with an inspiring keynote speaker
·         Carpools and ride shares available for those in Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Detroit, and surrounding areas
·         A pre Lead Education Day training webinar (which will be recorded to listen to at any time) outlining what to expect the day of, a review of our talking points, and answering your questions to prepare you for the exciting and worthwhile day ahead
·         A “capitol steps” group photo to remember the day

This is a great way to meet new people who care about lead poisoning prevention and network with other advocates! A wide variety of people come including lead abatement professionals, contractors, families, state and local government officials. Kids are welcome as well.

The deadline to register is March 6th, 2019

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Lead Poisoning in Preschoolers

Although high-quality preschools have been proven to help children with insufficient cognitive developments, this is not the case when it comes to lead poisoning. For instance, children at high-quality preschools in Ohio cannot catch up with their classmates in certain subjects at school. Children who have a past of lead exposure have a challenging time keeping up with their peers, regardless of what preschool they attend. According to research by Case Western Reserve University, children with lead poisoning were half as likely as their schoolmates to attain “on track” scores in literacy and language when they start kindergarten. The researchers discovered another displeasing result: From 2011 to 2016, only one in five children beginning kindergarten who were qualified for Medicaid were tested for lead poisoning at both ages one and two years old in Cleveland public schools.
Every student at the George L. Forbes Early Learning Center is required to partake in a lead test before entering school. The teachers and health coordinator receive this information to further educate and modify the students’ learning experiences. The Case Western Reserve University concluded that the majority of children have experienced at least one screening for lead poisoning before starting kindergarten. However, for those attending different preschools and did not partake in a test can develop long term health risks. They reported that by not testing your child, it can disguise the incremental effects of lead poisoning over a lifetime. Researchers suspect one reason some parents fail to take their kids to get tested is the challenge of making the extra trip or staying the whole duration of the visit.
If there is no continuous exposure to lead, it can leave the body after about a month. However, the toxins can last in the brain for up to two years. Kindergarteners are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, including irreversible damage to their brain development. A child’s brain is rapidly developing and exposure to lead is particularly harmful to the nervous system, creating deficits in multiple functioning areas. Lead poisoning has a negative impact on test performance, health, and cognitive development.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

New study shows traces of lead in spices

Lead pipes, contaminated soil and paint chips in pre-1978 homes are common sources of lead exposure for children. Recently however researchers from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services concluded that cooking spices, herbal remedies and ceremonial powders should be added to that list as well. The study tested chili powder, red pepper, cumin, coriander, anise, turmeric and vanilla in 983 homes from January 2011 to January 2018 and found that spices in 7 of the homes had high levels of lead. As for how lead was able to get into these spices, researchers point to imports. The U.S. imports 95% of its spices from countries with heavy pollution from battery-manufacturing plants, mines and leaded gasoline. Additionally, spices are brought back into the country from travelers or purchased online.

Spices are not considered a source of food for kids by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) despite some being popular flavor choices for the age group. Vanilla, for example is used in sweets frequently consumed by children such as cupcakes, ice cream and milkshakes. In addition, there are many children whose parents come from cultures where spices are used more in cooking like Southeast Asia. Even more problematic and concerning is the fact that there is currently no limit on lead contamination in spices. For children, there is no safe blood lead level, and even low levels of exposure can lower IQ and decrease concentration. Adults are not protected from the effects of lead either; according to the CDC, men and women experience high blood pressure, reproductive issues, nerve complications, joint pain and concentration issues after consuming lead.

The researchers who performed the study recommend that “lead investigators samples spices, herbal remedies, and ceremonial powders and attempt to document product origin and level of consumptions.” In addition, food regulators should test the products for lead and other heavy metals at the port. Finally, they urge the U.S. set a national limit on amount of lead allowed in spices. More on the study can be read here: http://www2.philly.com/philly/health/spices-herbal-remedies-lead-exposure-children-tumeric-chili-20181127.html

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

National Lead Prevention Awareness Week

Sunday, October 21 marked the beginning of this year’s National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week to draw attention to this important issue. During National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, individuals, communities, organizations, industries, and state and local governments come together to increase lead awareness. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are agencies that also contribute resources and expertise in educating the public about the toxin and lead poisoning prevention. This year the CDC is particularly focused on encouraging families to get their homes and children tested. There will be webinars on these topics and more throughout the week, which can be accessed here: https://www.epa.gov/lead

At the state level, Michigan’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP) and the Healthy Homes section of Michigan Department of Health & Human Service (MDHHS) participate in lead prevention efforts year round. CLPPP provides Michigan residents with lead poisoning education, blood lead level surveillance, and health services for families with children at risk of lead poisoning or with elevated blood lead levels. The Healthy Homes section then helps these families receive lead abatement services. More information on CLPPP and Healthy Homes can be found on the MDHHS website: www.michigan.gov/lead.

For resources and information to use in your community during National Lead Prevention Week, a Partner Information Kit is available for free on the CDC’s website: www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/nlppw. Interested in helping at the state and regional level to end lead poisoning in Michigan? Michigan Alliance for Lead Safe Homes is always seeking new members to join the coalition! Please contact Tina Reynolds at tina@environmentalcouncil.org with any questions.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Lead Poisoning on U.S. Army Bases

A special report published by Reuters this August shows that lead poisoning in children in the U.S. is not an isolated issue. In fact, hundreds of children residing on Army bases throughout the country, from Texas to Georgia to New York are reported to have high lead blood levels. Beginning in April of last year, Reuters began investigating the prevalence of lead in Army base homes, and the results were shocking. Of the five homes initially tested in Fort Benning, Georgia all were found to have toxic levels of lead; one house had 58 times the federal threshold! Lead poisoning is avoidable in homes if proper measures are taken, however the Army failed to do so despite concerns from families about the chipping lead paint in their homes, and the health impact it may have on their children.
This was the case for Colonel J. Cale Brown and his family. Stationed in Fort Benning, Georgia, his son John Cale Jr. began experiencing odd symptoms only a few months after the family moved into one of the homes on the base in 2011. John Cale Jr. suffered from a loss of appetite, limited speech and general disorientation. It was months later that doctors discovered the root of the problem: high blood lead levels. Their son had lead poisoning. To prevent this from happening to other children at Fort Benning, Colonel Brown pleaded with Army officials to perform regular home inspections and lead testing in children, and to also confront the building contractors from Villages of Benning who were in charge of managing the houses. Base leaders agreed to follow through on his requests but little was done. A year later seven more children from the base were found to have high blood lead levels.
Moving forward, Army officials need to take responsibility for their actions, and follow through on their word by performing abatement on hazardous houses and regular lead testing on children residing on bases. Members of the U.S. Army and their families deserve safe and healthy living conditions, just like everyone else. You can read more about the story here: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-military-housing-specialreport/special-report-children-poisoned-by-lead-on-us-army-bases-as-hazards-ignored-idUSKBN1L11IP