Report: Lead Exposure Costs Michigan $300 Million Annually

Posted at 9:02 PM, Jun 10, 2014

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (June 10, 2014) A new study released Tuesday details the impact of lead poisoning in Michigan – and the costs that come with it.

It’s a study that’s first of its kind in the state – showing the economic impacts of lead exposure in our homes and what it does to our children.

The University of Michigan Risk Science Center’s report says it’s costing Michigan more than $300 million a year.

“The people of the state of Michigan are paying about $300 million a year to pay for the cost of childhood lead poisoning,” Paul Haan of the Healthy Comes Coalition said.

The study shows the main costs associated with the dangerous effects of lead poising.  It costs Michigan $18 million annually healthcare and immediate blood lead treatment and treatment for ADHD associated with lead exposure.

“It`s estimated that 20 to 25 percent of kids that have problems with ADHD can trace that back to childhood lead poisoning,” Haan said.

Increases in special education also contribute to the cost at $2.5 million a year.

And there’s a very surprising result of poisoning, according to the report.

“It talks about incarceration and juvenile justice because kids that are lead poisoned have difficulty controlling impulse,” Haan said.

The biggest cost: lost wages – a reduction of lifetime earnings of $206 million.

Haan says it’s because those children will never earn higher wages because of the neurological impacts and brain damage caused by lead.

But it’s all preventable.  The report goes on to say that $600 million could fix all the most at-risk houses.  Haan says the best way to prevent all costs is to get all the way upstream – fixing the houses and changing the environment the children live in.

Lead can be present in any homes built before 1978, but particularly in homes built during or before the 1950s.

If you can’t afford the work to fix your house, the Michigan Department of Community Health offers programs through the state. Local programs are offered through Grand Rapids Community Development.