Health

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is giving Louisville more than $2.8 million to help remediate local homes that may contain lead-based paint. With the money, Lead Safe Louisville will be able to help 120 families over the next three years and hopefully prevent children from developing lead poisoning.

“If a family has a child and they live in a home built before 1978, they can give us a call,” said Nancy Williams, Lead Safe Louisville program manager. “Whether its owner occupied or a rental unit, we’re willing to look at the home and see if there are hazards.”

Children between ages one and two are routinely screened for lead in their blood at pediatrician checkups. If the level comes back high, Lead Safe Louisville gets in touch with caregivers and investigates where the exposure to lead is coming from. Lead-based paint was commonly used before 1978, and often the exposure is due to old, chipping paint.

Last year in Louisville, there were around 50 cases of lead poisoning in children that required medical attention. In the city, areas where there are both high concentrations of poverty and older housing stock are at a higher risk for exposure.

“Millions of families and children are seeing their hope for the future threatened by poor health simply because of where they live,” said Jon Gant, the director of HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control.

Children and babies are especially vulnerable to lead exposure. While an adult absorbs around 10 percent of lead that is inhaled or accidentally eaten through paint chips, a baby absorbs around 90 percent. A child can absorb up to 70 percent of that lead.

Lead poisoning can lead to seizures, developmental delays, kidney damage and high blood pressure. These children are more likely to struggle in school and commit crimes as teenagers.