The 16-member Kent County Lead Poisoning task force continues to meet to investigate ways in which the County can work towards elimination of lead poisoning
Late last year, the Kent County Board of Commissioners appointed a 16 member task force to investigate ways in which the County can work towards elimination of lead poisoning. That task force has been meeting monthly since January, taking testimony from a variety of subject matter experts.
While much of the media coverage about the Flint water crisis has died down, there is much activity in Lansing in regards to childhood lead poisoning. Most notable at this time is the Governor's request for $2 million in funding for the newly formed Child Lead Exposure Elimination Commission. This request is working its way through the legislature, with the House and the Senate both offering different perspectives. There are also six bills that have been introduced to address lead exposure.
The State of Michigan announced in November that it would be receiving a Medicaid waiver allowing it to spend nearly $24 million a year for the next five years on fixing lead hazards in homes. To be eligible, the home must be occupied by a Medicaid enrolled child with an elevated blood lead level. However, dollars can be used for primary prevention in the City of Flint and in other "target communities" to be identified by the State. Get the Lead Out! partners in Grand Rapids are working to bring those dollars to Kent County.
A Steering Committee was formed to help guide the work of the Get the Lead Out! Collaborative following the group's meeting in January. The Steering Committee has met twice since then and is working toward a larger, more impactful gathering in the future.
Governor Snyder appointed Paul Haan, Executive Director of the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan, to the newly formed Child Lead Exposure Elimination Commission created by Executive Order today. The Commission will advance the work completed by a temporary board appointed in 2016. Haan and Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss served on the former board that issued a set of recommendations in November 2016.
Four experts in the area of lead poisoning provided detailed presentations to the Kent County Lead Task Force on Wednesday, February 15, 2017. Board Chair Jim Saalfeld formed the Lead Task Force in September 2016 to investigate the issue and seek solutions to lead poisoning in children. Healthy Homes Coalition Executive Director Paul Haan serves on the task force.
Governor Appoints Healthy Homes Coalition Executive Director to Child Lead Poisoning Elimination Board
GRAND RAPIDS – Governor Snyder appointed Paul Haan, Executive Director of the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan, and Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss to the newly formed Child Lead Poisoning Elimination Board created by Executive Order on June 10.
“It is an honor to be asked to serve in this important role,” said Haan. “We have a 15 year history of effectively fighting childhood lead poisoning in west Michigan, and I look forward to leveraging that knowledge in service to all the children of Michigan. Our goal will be to help focus this work on solving the root environmental causes of lead poisoning, including lead-based paint, lead-laden soil, and tainted water. It’s not enough to just test and treat kids. We have to get at the source.”
On March 14, 2016, the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan and the Kent County Health Department (KCHD) spoke with representatives from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to begin exploring why there was a 30% increase in the number of children with elevated blood lead test results in Kent County in 2015. In 2014 there were 470 children with blood lead levels ≥5.0 ug/dL* in Kent County. In 2015, that number rose dramatically to 610 children. The initial request on that day was to review historical data to identify potential abnormalities related to WIC testing sites in the City of Grand Rapids, geography (zip codes), and time of year (quarter).
In recent weeks, staff from the Healthy Homes made a pair of quick visits to Lansing to provide testimony to both the House and Senate Department of Community Health Appropriations subcommittees. The purpose of the testimony was to thank legislators for making a first-time ever allocation of $1.25 million in general revenue funding for lead hazard control.