Lead poisoning cases on the rise in Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.  — One Grand Rapids neighborhood has the highest number of lead-poisoned children in the state, according to new health data.

Over the past two years, the 49507 zip code in Grand Rapids has seen a 40 percent increase in the cases of lead poisonings in children, according to data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

More children were poisoned by lead in 49507 than all of Flint before, during and after the Flint water crisis, according to the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan.

The problem in Grand Rapids isn’t the water, but instead lead-based paint found in older homes.

In 2016, the data shows 615 children in Kent County had elevated blood-lead levels. Two thirds of the cases lived in zip codes 49507, 49504 or 49503 — which are mostly high-poverty and minority neighborhoods in Grand Rapids.

Experts say anyone who owns or rents a home built before 1978 should test their home for lead-based paints.


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