Three Grand Rapids zip codes rank high for lead-based paint

Posted at 10:03 AM, Oct 21, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-21 10:04:19-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Old lead paint in homes has been a problem for a long time in Grand Rapids, and some neighborhoods are much worse than others.

Doug Stek, Grand Rapids Housing rehabilitation office supervisor, gave us a walk through of a house currently under remediation, where we witnessed the nightmare a homeowner has to go through to get the lead out.

The zip code with the highest number of lead poisoned children in all of Michigan is 49507, with 49503 and 49504 in the top 20.

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is Oct. 19-25.

After laying down an extensive amount of tarp and covering up all the furniture, homeowners have to move out and find a place to live while contractors work alongside the city to make homes lead free. This has been the reality for more than 1300 homes in Grand Rapids.

“This is a heightened level of concern,” said Stek.

A typical project costs $12,000 and the city is providing 6 grants and $16 million in federal funding that’s helping families foot the bill. But homeowners are expected to pay for half of the project and a place to live while contractors paint, clean and scrape the homes free of lead.

“The potential is there for lead in any home built before 1978,” said Stek.

The Kent County Health Department is now encouraging families to test their children for lead poisoning.

These are a few lead hazard control programs available in West Michigan:

  • City of Grand Rapids, 616-456-3030. For Spanish, 616-632-7087.
  • Muskegon County, 231-724-1259

For other cities and counties in West Michigan, call Lead Safe Homes Program, 866-691-5323

For additional information, Kent County Health Department Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention, 616-632-7063