Public forum to be held on lead paint risks

Posted at 9:51 AM, Mar 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-17 09:52:15-04

City of Jackson officials, in cooperation with county, state and federal health and environmental experts have organized a public meeting to discuss lead paint risks in the Jackson community
to educate citizens on the dangers associated with the element.

The meeting is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, in the Ella Sharp Museum Community Room. It will feature discussions and testimony regarding lead paint risks in homes and buildings constructed before
1978, as well as an initiative pursued by Jackson leaders to combat the issue.

City officials are currently working with the Jackson County Health Department, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to provide lead experts at
the meeting. The forum will allow write-in questions from the public.

The city’s proposed lead initiative, modeled after a similar 2010 effort in Detroit, would require landlords to work with a certified lead inspector to conduct a lead risk assessment on properties constructed before 1978 as part of their process to register their property with the city. The change would require landlords to disclose where lead hazards exist in the homes, if any risks associated with the property exist at all.

With water tests showing high water quality within the city, experts believe lead levels in Jackson County children younger than 6 are a result of lead paint in city homes. According to the most recent data report on childhood lead testing and elevated levels in the state’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, the city had the second highest blood lead levels in the state.

“While the city has passed water quality tests since they were required by the EPA beginning in 1992, it’s more than likely that Jackson’s high level of lead in children is due to its old and blighted housing stock,” Public Information Officer Will Forgrave said. “Before we can solve this problem we need to know specifically where these problems are coming from, and lead assessments would do just that.”

Anyone with questions or concerns about the city’s lead levels or proposed initiative is encouraged to attend the meeting at 3225 Fourth St. in Jackson.