Where does lead come from and why is it a health hazard?
Most of the lead hazards in South Bend come from old leaded paint and lead in soil. The leaded paint makes dust that gets all over homes and it also winds up in the dirt outside homes. The leaded dirt can blow in or be tracked back into the home.
How can I find out if my children have been exposed to lead?
A blood lead test is recommended for all children who may be exposed to environmental lead at ages 12 months and 24 months.
All local insurance companies and Medicaid reimburse the cost of lead tests for kids under age 6.
The county health department offers free lead testing.
How can I learn if there is lead in my home?
Unless they have been professionally lead-abated, most homes built before 1978, and nearly all homes built before 1950, have some leaded paint and usually also have high lead levels near the exterior walls of the house. Paint that is peeling, cracking, or powdering is much more hazardous than paint in good condition. Paint on doors and windows is rubbed by the opening and closing of the doors and windows. This friction creates paint powder and flakes--you may see it at the bottom of a window. If the paint is leaded, this is hazardous.
Ask for a free lead sample collection kit by emailing us.
The county health department will conduct a free home lead hazard assessment if there is a pregnant woman or a child under age 7 in the home. This is a very thorough test that takes 2-3 hours.
How can I learn in there is lead in my water?
Our experience is that most residential drinking water in South Bend is below the EPA action limit on lead. However, we sometimes see water that is cloudy and has higher lead levels. The cloudy water indicates that the passivation layer inside the pipes has been disturbed. If your water is cloudy, let the tap run for about 3 minutes to see if it clears up.
Water filters (Brita, Pur) are effective tools for removing lead from drinking water. If you're concerned about your home water, you can use a filter for your drinking water.
Read this info sheet from the county health department about lead in drinking water.
Here's a link to the NPR app that can help you figure out whether or not you have lead water pipes coming into your home.
We are developing a water testing kit but it's not ready for distribution yet.
Reducing the harm from lead in your environment
If you live in an older home with peeling paint or old windows and lead problems, you may be eligible for free lead remediation help and repairs.