Lead and Healthy Homes
United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Lead Hazard Control Grant Program Information
Which would you choose: to live in a home you could afford, or one that is healthy for your family? Sadly, too many families in America are forced with that decision every day.
Lead is a highly toxic heavy metal which produces a range of adverse health effects, particularly in young children. Lead dust is of particular concern as it is often undetected and easily absorbed. Leaded paint used on the interior and exterior of homes was banned in the U.S. in 1978. However, it is estimated that about 75% of homes built before 1978 contain some lead paint.
Both inside and outside the home, deteriorated lead-paint mixes with household dust and soil and becomes tracked in. Children may become lead poisoned by:
- Putting their hands or other lead-contaminated objects into their mouths,
- Eating paint chips found in homes with peeling or flaking lead-based paint, or
- Playing in lead-contaminated soil
Take a moment to look at the brochure "Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home" for additional information (available in English (PDF), Spanish (PDF), Russian (PDF), Vietnamese (PDF), Somali (PDF) and Arabic (PDF)).
What can you do? If your home was built before 1978:
- Wipe down flat surfaces, like window sills, with a damp paper towel and throw away the paper towel,
- Mop smooth floors (using a damp mop) weekly to control dust,
- Take off shoes when entering the house
- Vacuum carpets and upholstery to remove dust,
- If possible, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter or a "higher efficiency" collection bag,
- Pick up loose paint chips carefully with a paper towel and discard in the trash, then wipe the surface clean with a wet paper towel,
- Take precautions to avoid creating lead dust when remodeling, renovating or maintaining your home,
- Test for lead hazards by a lead professional. (Have the soil tested too).
For your child:
- Have your child’s blood lead level tested at age 1 and 2. Children from 3 to 6 years of age should have their blood tested, if they have not been tested before and:
- They live in or regularly visit a house built before 1950,
- They live in or regularly visit a house built before 1978 with on-going or recent renovations or remodeling
- They have a sibling or playmate who has or did have lead poisoning
- Frequently wash your child’s hands and toys to reduce contact with dust,
- Use cold tap water for drinking and cooking
- Avoid using home remedies (such as arzacon, greta, pay-loo-ah, or litargirio) and cosmetics (such as kohl or alkohl) that contain lead
- Certain candies, such as tamarindo candy jam products from Mexico, may contain high levels of lead in the wrapper or stick. Be cautious when providing imported candies to children
- Some tableware, particularly folk terra cotta plates and bowls from Latin America, may contain high levels of lead that can leach into food.
- Kenosha/Racine Lead Program Brochure (English) (PDF)
- Kenosha/Racine Lead Program Brochure (Spanish) (PDF)
- Lead Safe Housing Registry (PDF)
HUD Healthy Homes Initiative
HUD believes our communities should make homes available to families that are affordable and healthy. "Healthy Homes" is a century-old concept that promotes safe, decent, and sanitary housing as a means for preventing disease and injury. There is a lot of emerging scientific evidence linking health outcomes such as asthma, lead poisoning, and unintentional injuries to substandard housing. And, there are more than 6 million substandard housing units nationwide. Help Yourself to a Healthy Home (PDF) provides valuable information to assist in making your home healthier for you and your family.
But it’s not just older homes that contain hazards. Even newer expensive homes may have hazards lurking within. Creating healthier housing promotes the healthy growth and development of children and has the potential to save billions in health care costs. Everyone needs a healthy home and some of the most serious health problems for children start in their home. There are special reasons to think about children:
- Children’s bodies are still growing.
- For their size, children eat more food, drink more water and breathe more air than adults.
- Children play and crawl on the ground and put their fingers into their mouths.
- Children depend on adults to make their homes safe.
So what can you do? Fortunately there are some really simple ways to help make your home a healthier place for you and your family. By following the Seven Healthy Homes Principles (PDF) below, you can help make your home a healthier place to live in.
Follow the Seven Healthy Homes Principles
1. Keep your home Dry
Damp houses provide a nurturing environment for mites, roaches, rodents, and molds, all of which are associated with asthma.
2. Keep your home Clean:
Clean homes help reduce pest infestations and exposure to contaminants.
3. Keep your home Pest-Free:
Recent studies show a causal relationship between exposure to mice and cockroaches and asthma episodes in children; yet inappropriate treatment for pest infestations can exacerbate health problems, since pesticide residues in homes pose risks for neurological damage and cancer.
4. Keep your home Safe:
The majority of injuries among children occur in the home. Falls are the most frequent cause of residential injuries to children, followed by injuries from objects in the home, burns, and poisonings.
5. Keep your home Contaminant-Free:
Chemical exposures include lead, radon, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and environmental tobacco smoke. Exposures to asbestos particles, radon gas, carbon monoxide, and second-hand tobacco smoke are far higher indoors than outside.
6. Keep your home Ventilated:
Studies show that increasing the fresh air supply in a home improves respiratory health.
7. Keep your home Maintained:
Poorly-maintained homes are at risk for moisture and pest problems. Deteriorated lead-based paint in older housing is the primary cause of lead poisoning, which affects some 240,000 U.S. children.
All services are free to qualifying individuals. Services can be performed for homeowners or renters (for rental properties, landlord permission is needed). We are currently taking applications.
For more information or instructions on how to apply, please contact:
Kenosha County Division of Health
8600 Sheridan Road, Suite 600
Kenosha, WI 53143
Phone: (262) 605-6700
Fax: (262) 605-6725