'Unless we test, we don't know': Experts suggest testing children for lead annually

Posted at 4:54 AM, Nov 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-06 06:53:01-05

INKSTER, Mich. (WXYZ) — The State of Michigan identified several cities around metro Detroit with higher than acceptable levels of lead in the drinking water, according to samples taken in September.

Since the data has been published, several cities have provided residents with free water filters and shared ways to limit lead exposure in the home.

Lead is considered a toxin and can be very dangerous if ingested, especially for younger individuals who are still developing.

"Any lead in a baby's body, or an adult's body is dangerous," said Dr. Katherine Ling-McGeorge, a pediatrician with Beaumont Health.

Experts suggest that if you live in an older home likely to have lead service water lines, or have children in the home under six years old, you should have your kids tested for lead annually.

“Unless we test, we don’t know," said Dr. Ling-McGeorge.

While Dr. Ling-McGeorge said pregnant women and young kids are the most at risk, it's important for the entire family to be tested.

Doctors measure lead levels in the body through a blood test; it's the only way to know for sure if someone has been exposed.

“It’s more important the littler you are though, and we will see neurological deficits, developmental delay," Dr. Ling-McGeorge told 7 Action News.

Stephanie Rachal didn't think much about lead testing until she learned Inkster, where she lives, is one of several metro Detroit areas with higher than the acceptable 15 parts per billion of lead in the drinking water.

“That’s when I got concerned and called my granddaughter’s mom," she said.

Now, she'd like her 7-year-old granddaughter tested.

It's something you can do your pediatrician's office. The Detroit Health Department also provides testing at its clinics.

“For all the hundreds of thousands of children here, not many get tested," Dr. Ling-McGeorge said.

For Rachal, the concern is not just about tap water at home, but about the possible exposure everywhere else.

“When I heard about it, I instantly called my granddaughter’s school," she told 7 Action News.

Dr. Ling-McGeorge said aside from water, lead can be found on the surface of some toys, and within older home's infrastructure like on banisters.

Experts suggest drinking bottled water or using a water filter that means Standard 53, certified for lead, to limited exposure.

Dr. Ling-McGeorge also suggests wet dusting your home with heavy duty cleaner called TSP solution, which can remove things standard home cleaners cannot.

"Wet dusting is taking TSP solution and using a wet rag and asking dusting certain areas that have high lead likelihood," she said.

You can also buy lead surface testing kits and at-home lead water testing kits.

Click here for more helpful information from the Detroit Health Department about where and how to have your children tested for lead.