Lead Poisoning

Lead Task Force

Board Chair Jim Saalfeld formed the Lead Task Force in September 2016 to investigate the issue and seek solutions to lead poisoning in children. One zip code in Grand Rapids led the state for the highest number of lead-poisoned children in 2015 according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services: 49507. Four out of five homes in Grand Rapids, and nearly three out of five homes in Kent County, were built before 1978, the year lead was banned from paint.

Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention & Case Management

Target Population

Kent County children ages nine months through six years.


  • For more information about lead testing of children 1-5 years of age, contact the lead program at 632-7063.
  • Case management of confirmed cases of lead poisoning. Public health nurse home visits for assessment and education, and environmental inspections when appropriate.
  • Referrals by hospitals and community clinics, private physicians, and KCHD testing sites.
  • Outreach and Coordination with local Lead Hazard Control Programs.
  • Presentations for groups interested in learning about the sources, implications and prevention of lead poisoning and educational resources for parents, caregivers and homeowners.

About Lead Poisoning

Symptoms of lead poisoning can be silent— and hard to recognize. Preventing lead poisoning before it happens is the best way to keep your family safe.

Take this quiz to see if your child may be at risk:
  • Does your child currently live in a home built before 1950 or have they lived in a home built before 1950 in the recent past? Yes or No
  • Do they spend time at or often visit a home built before 1950? Yes or No
  • Does your child currently live in a home built before 1978 that was recently remodeled? Yes or No
  • Have they lived in or often visited a home built before 1978 that was recently remodeled? Yes No
  • Does your child have a brother, sister or playmate with lead poisoning? Yes No
  • Does your child live with an adult whose job or hobby involves lead? Yes No
  • Do you or your child’s caregiver use home remedies that may contain lead? Yes No

If you answered NO to all of these questions, your child is probably not at risk for lead poisoning. If you answered YES to any of these questions, talk to your doctor about testing your child for lead poisoning or call Kent County Health Department at 616-632-7063.

Lead Testing: Children should be tested at one and two years of age or if you think your child has been exposed to a lead. Talk to your doctor to make sure your children have been tested.

Lead Safe Cleaning

  • Put on rubber gloves. If you do not have rubber gloves, wash your hands well after cleaning.
  • Use the right cleaners and supplies you can throw away. Use soapy cleaners or products made to remove lead dust.
  • Remove paint chips first. Window areas and porches often have peeling paint and lead dust. Pick up paint chips you can see and throw them away in a plastic bag.
  • Always wet-mop floors and window sills. Replace mop water frequently.
  • Rinse after cleaning surfaces. Use clean water and a new mop head or fresh paper towels to wipe away suds. Always empty wash water down a toilet. Repeat these steps weekly, or when dirt and dust appear on floors, porches, window wells, window sills, stairs and children’s play areas.
  • Do not broom lead dust.
  • Throw away cloths after wiping each area.
  • Don’t use a vacuum unless it is a HEPA vacuum. A regular vacuum will spread lead dust into the air you breathe. Kent County Health Department has HEPA vacuums available to borrow. Call 616-632-7063.


Call Kent County Health Department for any questions regarding lead poisoning and prevention – 616-632-7063.