Danville’s Lead Safe program works to remove lead from homes to prevent poisoning in children

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 4:47 PM EDT
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DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - Danville is working to remove lead from homes in the city to prevent poisoning in children.

Danville’s Lead Safe program focuses on reducing the chances of childhood lead poisoning by removing lead from homes built before 1978.

Those homes could contain high levels of lead, as that was the year the government outlawed lead-based paint.

Michael Beckner, manager of the Lead Safe program, says 86% of housing was built before 1978 in Virginia.

“We’re very historic,” said Michael Beckner, Lead Safe Program Manager. “Our city goes way back in history. We have houses built in the late 1800s, the early 1900s, to the present. This is extremely important to us because a lot of the housing that we’re seeing children grow up in were built before 1978. We want to be able to help as many of those children have the best life they could possibly have.”

Lead poisoning is caused by eating or breathing in material that may contain lead.

Children with exposure to lead could experience kidney failure, slowed growth, anemia, and more.

“A child has less blood than an adult. So, the higher the number the child has, the greater the damage can do to a child. Lead displaces other heavy metals in your body, like zinc, iron, and different ones like that. It also inhibits the enzymes from aiding in your body functions. So, it’s exacerbated in a child because it’s in such a smaller area than it is in an adult,” added Beckner.

The program is free for homeowners with an income of 80% or less of the area median income and have a child under 6 or a pregnant woman in the home.

“Once lead enters the body, it doesn’t exit. It’s stored in your bones and your teeth. For pregnant women, the child is still susceptible to everything that the mother is exposed to. Therefore, if the mother is exposed to lead, the child gets exposed to it as well. It could slow the growth of their organs while the child is developing. It could also cause miscarriages and stillbirths,” explained Beckner.

They also look for mold, mildew, radon, fire hazards, and plumbing issues in the homes they check.

They are almost finished with the first home in the program. They plan to remove lead from 83 homes and test at least 100 in Danville by 2025.