Berrien County Health Department is offering expanded lead testing

NOW: Berrien County Health Department is offering expanded lead testing

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. --After the water crisis in Benton Harbor, Berrien County Health Department is now offering expanded lead testing for children under the age of six starting this week. 

The expanded testing is part of the state of Michigan's new Get Ahead of Lead program, a new statewide strategy to protect families most at risk of lead’s harmful effects.   

The testing comes as spring break is in full swing this week. Berrien County Health Officer Guy Miller says by extending their days and hours during spring break, it can make it easier for parents to get their children tested.   

It’s a simple finger prick test for kids as parents and legal guardians will receive results right away.   

A child with elevated lead levels will be referred to the lead case manager of the health department, who will offer further assistance and services.  

“So, the earlier you can catch lead in your child's blood, the quicker you can start to intervene and usually means mitigating those sources. Simple things like using a lead paint seal, sweeping or mopping up areas around the house where there might be dust, mopping those windowsills with a damp cloth are really good mitigation measures you could take tomorrow to reduce your child's lead exposure,” Miller said. 

Although Benton Harbor's water supply has improved, Miller notes that lead contamination can still occur in homes from other sources like lead paint, lead dust or lead paint chips.   

“It could be kind of silent. I don't mean to be an alarmist about this. But if you do live in an older home and if you do meet some of those risk categories, it's not a bad idea just to get a quick lead screening on your child at a point in time, just to see if that the blood level is elevated or not,” Miller said. 

Testing is free for children who receive support through the state’s Women, Infants and Children program. Self-pay patients are billed on a sliding scale based on income and household size. For those with insurance, BCHD will bill 100% to insurance. Parents and guardians will be responsible for any cost insurance does not pay.  

Community members can pick up a free water filter during their appointment if they are a city of Benton Harbor resident and have a child younger than 19 living in the home and on Medicaid and someone who is pregnant living at the home on Medicaid.  

Testing will be offered at the Berrien County Health Department from 9 AM to 3 PM from Monday through Thursday and Friday from 9 AM to 1 PM. 

Share this article: