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Lead poisoning of children in Michigan costs $330 million per year

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A new study released Tuesday, June 10th shows lead poisoning is costing Michigan more than $300-Million dollars per year.

"Economic Impact of Lead Exposure and Remediation in Michigan" was authored by the University of Michigan School of Public Health's Risk Science Center and is the first report in Michigan to compare the costs of lead contamination of children with the cost to prevent the problem.

According to a release four main categories of impact were studied and expenditures were conservatively projected for costs associated with lead contamination of children: increased health care (over $18 million annually), increased adult and juvenile crime ($105 million annually), increased need for special education ($2.5 million annually), and decline in lifetime earnings ($206 million annually).  Overall, the annual cost of lead exposure in Michigan children is approximately $330 million, $145 million of which is paid by taxpayers.

The report estimates that cost of remediation of all most at-risk homes to be $600 million.

Lead poisoning is the number one environmental health hazard for children in Michigan with 70% of exposure coming from paint.

In this new study, The Michigan Network for Children's Environmental Health examined the cost of four main problems associated with lead contamination in children.

It found health care costs increased $18-million dollars a year, adult and juvenile crime spiked costing 105-million dollars a year. There was a decline of lifetime earnings of about $206-million dollars per year and $2.5 million dollars increased annually for special education.

The report also found 21.1% of ADHD cases are associated with elevated blood lead levels.

"It is well-documented that childhood lead exposure is associated with a wide range of irreversible and costly heath effects and behavioral problems. However, this is the first time these impacts of lead exposure have been compared with the costs of abatement in Michigan," said Tracy Swinburn, research specialist at the U-M Risk Science Center and author of the report.

The State of Michigan has an ongoing lead abatement program that is remediating homes each year.

"This program needs to be expanded, fully funded, and properly staffed.  We call on the Governor to reconvene Michigan's Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control Commission in order to develop a plan to end lead poisoning in Michigan," said Rebecca Meuninck, Environmental Health Campaign Director, Ecology Center and Michigan Network for Children's Environmental Health.

Recommendations from the Michigan's Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control Commission include:
o   Reinvest in local public health department capacity in order to provide nursing and home inspection services in communities
o   Increase financial incentives for property owners to undertake lead hazard remediation
o   Enhance the Statewide Housing Registry
o   Fully fund the program
Read the full report by clicking HERE