Ask your Candidates: Lead and other environmental hazards


“The Kent County Health Department works with families to identify lead and other environmental hazards.. The health department has recently gone from three to six sanitarians, thanks to funding from the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage. Unfortunately the lead investigation process is tedious and labor-intensive, taking up to 40 hours per home. Lead is a threat in every part of Kent County – the city of Grand Rapids, adjacent suburbs, outlying suburbs, and rural communities. Lead paint wasn’t banned until 1978, so any home built before then could be a danger. That includes nearly 70 percent of all housing in Kent County (Normal)

Is there any additional funding you are willing to put toward the remediation of LEAD?

Would you support a law requiring a lead inspection and risk assessment before the sale of any home built before 1978?


Universal testing for lead in the blood is currently only required for children whose families participate in certain publicly funded health and nutrition programs. Most children living in homes that could have the remnants of lead-based paint are never tested. Many experts believe testing should begin with pregnant moms and continue annually until a child enters kindergarten (Normal). 

Would you support a bill to require annual universal testing for pregnant moms to children through age 6?

Following a federal funding slash in budget year 2012, many local health departments (LHDs) in Michigan have had to scale back or discontinue elevated blood lead (EBL) investigations. When a child has been poisoned by lead, an investigation is crucial to identifying the source and preventing future poisonings in the same home. Lead exposure is a serious problem throughout the state but response varies based on the resources individual LHDs can cobble together. A dedicated state-level revenue stream for local EBL investigations and other critical lead response activity would address the patchwork and ensure that all children affected by lead receive the attention they deserve. Implementation of a comprehensive program for lead elimination and response in every LHD in the state would cost an estimated $86 million to $100 million annually (MLPP). 

Would you support identification of a dedicated state-level funding stream for EBL investigations?

Amid concerns about aging infrastructure, lead in drinking water and COVID-19 transmission, touchless hydration stations and point-of-use filters are a cost-effective way to protect children from the harmful impacts of lead and other contaminants. Many factors affect the reliability of lead testing results and even faucets and drinking fountains that are certified lead free contain small amounts of lead, so widespread testing and replacement of fixtures where lead is detected can provide a false sense of security. A “filter first” approach for all drinking water sources in schools and child care centers would better assure parents that their children are safe, help mitigate the broader social and economic impacts of water contamination, and ensure equitable opportunity for all kids. These bills put some parameters around filter monitoring and replacement schedules, require schools and child care centers to develop a drinking water safety plan and establish an oversight role for EGLE. (MLPP). 

Would you support the “Filter First” bills—sponsored by Sens. Curt VanderWall and Jim Ananich?

ACTION ALERT: These bills have passed the house and need to pass the Senate. You can take action with the Michigan Environmental Council by writing to your legislator.


The Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act, would require the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to inspect a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) unit for lead risks before a family with young children moves in. HCV units are already required to be inspected for quality and safety by HUD, but the inspection currently doesn’t include a lead risk assessment.

Would you support the Lead Safe Housing for Kids Act?