Polk County Health Department Receives HUD Grant

Published 2/23/2022 1:40:34 PM

February 23, 2022

(Des Moines, IA) The Polk County Health Department is pleased to announce they have received a $3,455,000.00 grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This grant is dedicated to protecting children and families from the dangerous hazards of lead-based paint in the home.

“Lead paint was banned from residential use in 1978 and is the primary source of lead poisoning in Iowa.  Two-thirds of Des Moines’ housing stock was built before 1978,” said Helen Eddy, Polk County Health Department Director. “In Polk County, we estimate 60,000 homes still have significant lead hazards.”

Lead is a highly toxic metal that can cause a range of health problems, especially in children under the age of six. During these years, children tend to put their hands and other objects, which may be contaminated with lead dust, into their mouths. When lead is absorbed into the body, it can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs, like the kidneys, nerves and blood.

Children can also be exposed to lead when families renovate their older home without utilizing lead safe work practices. Lead paint is also still used in other countries. Children who have lived in or visited these countries may be lead poisoned. Iowa Department of Public Health recommends all children are tested for lead at 12 and 24 months of age.

Children who live in an older home need to be tested more frequently. This test can be done with your primary care physician or at a local Health Department.

“As parents and guardians, we need to be thinking about lead poisoning and where our child spends most of their time,” said Eddy. “The child may live in a newer house but if he or she spends significant time at daycare or at their grandparents, they still could be at risk for lead poisoning if the home was built before 1978.”

If your child lives in or spends significant time in a home built before 1978, the Polk County Health Department can help. This HUD grant was awarded so that we can help protect children and families from the hazards of lead-based paint and from other home

and safety hazards. The program works with families who have a home built before 1978, have children under the age of six who live in or visit the home and meet income eligibility requirements to remove interior and exterior lead hazards from the home.

Please note that any home where the child spends a significant amount of time may be eligible. The child does NOT need to have an elevated lead level to qualify for the program. If you are interested in this program, please contact the Polk County Health Department at (515) 286-2115.