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Summertime heightens risk for dangerous lead paint exposure

Summers in Minnesota are a time to open the windows and feel the fresh air.


But for those who live in older homes, that breeze could distribute lead dust throughout the house.


Many homes built before 1978 still contain lead paint. When chipped, that paint creates a fine dust that is easily absorbed into the body and bloodstream. That exposure is especially dangerous to children under the age of six and pregnant women. Lead poisoning can cause developmental delays, learning problems and neurological issues that can last a lifetime.


The Hennepin County Lead Removal Program provides low and no-cost solutions for families occupying older homes. If lead paint is confirmed and the homeowner qualifies, they can apply for a grant to replace their old windows with new, lead-free, energy-efficient windows.


Determining whether a family with children or a pregnant woman have been exposed to lead begins with testing. In Hennepin County, residents can turn to the Neighborhood HealthSource clinics as an accessible, affordable resource. The clinics work closely with the Hennepin County Lead Removal Program to provide free blood testing.


“We are skilled to work with children. We help calm them while we do the test, which is just a quick capillary finger poke. The test is sent out for results. The entire process takes a few minutes and is just pretty easy,” said Erika Denham, community health educator and phlebotomist for Neighborhood HealthSource who often does the blood testing.


If patients receive a positive result, they are scheduled to meet with a health care provider for follow up.


Especially during the summer, it’s important to consider where a young child is spending time and review it as a possible source for lead exposure, especially if they are in a place was built before 1978, when lead paint was outlawed. 


“This is so important, as children are out for the summer and are spending more time in the house. They're visiting grandparents who have older homes,” Denham said. “Or they're in day care and maybe at a day care center for the first time. We know parents want to make sure that their kids are safe.”


There are four Neighborhood Healthsource Clinics. The Sheridan and Central clinics are located in northeast Minneapolis, the Fremont Clinic is in north Minneapolis and there’s also a clinic in Coon Rapids. Each provides routine health care services as well as the testing for lead exposure.


To schedule an appointment for lead exposure testing, contact any of the clinics online at or call 612-588-9411.


“It doesn't take a lot of time. It's not going to be too taxing on the kids, but it needs to be done to make sure they are safe,” Denham said.




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