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Lead poisoning prevention advocates come to the Capitol; Rep. Olumba gets personal about his daughters’ lead exposure

Feb 28, 2014
Advocates who helped secure $1.25 million for lead poisoning prevention funding in this year’s state budget blanketed the Capitol this month, showing lawmakers that the money is being effectively spent and advocating for continued funding in this year’s budget.

Last Thursday members of the Michigan Alliance for Lead Safe Housing (MIALSH), including Michigan Environmental Council Policy Director Tina Reynolds, testified before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee to provide up-to-date information on how the money is being spent to enroll families and make their homes lead safe.

On Monday, a MIALSH team testified before a House Appropriations subcommittee. Advocates (pictured left to right) included Courtney Meyers-Keaton from Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan, Sandra Turner-Handy as a member of CLEARCorps/Detroit (Sandra is also MEC's community outreach director), and Tina Reynolds from Michigan Environmental Council. The subcommittee chair’s aide sent an email saying that MIALSH “did a great job,” and was “the group that the committee seemed most interested in!”

In a poignant example of lead’s continued threat to children, Rep. John Olumba (I-Detroit) surprised everyone at Monday’s appropriations hearing by sharing that, because of his work on this issue, he and his wife recently asked to have two of their children tested for lead and were shocked to learn that both girls tested positive for lead exposure. Follow-up tests showed low background lead levels, but as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that there is no safe level of lead in a child’s blood.

Rep. Olumba spoke to his colleagues and to the department about the need to not just deal with the backlog of homes needing abatement, but to invest in education and prevention.

A significant amount of new money is being invested in expanding preschool in Michigan, something Rep. Olumba says he strongly supports. But to what end, he asked, if young children are living in unhealthy homes?
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