Free blood lead testing event hosted at Tri-County Head Start for City of Benton Harbor residents on Jan. 19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 14, 2022
CONTACT: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. - Tri-County Head Start Discovery Enrichment Center is hosting a blood lead testing event on Wednesday, Jan. 19, from 2 to 6 p.m. for City of Benton Harbor residents, announced the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) today.

Although blood lead tests cannot tell you if you were exposed to lead in the past, testing is particularly important for young children and pregnant persons because exposure to lead early in life has been shown to cause problems with learning, behavior, hearing and growth. For individuals who have elevated blood lead levels, the goals are to identify the source of lead, stop the lead exposure and to talk with their doctor to discuss any other tests or follow-up that might be needed.

Children less than 6 years old with an elevated blood lead level are offered nurse case management through the Berrien County Health Department, which includes a home visit with a registered nurse.

No appointments are necessary, and Tri-County Head Start Discovery Enrichment Center is located at 465 S McCord Street in Benton Harbor.

Blood lead testing for children is also being offered through the WIC program and the Berrien County Health Department by calling 800-815-5485 or visiting BCHDMI.org for more information. InterCare Community Health Network, located at 800 M-139, is also providing blood lead testing by appointment and can be reached by calling 855-869-6900.

Free bottled water continues to be provided by MDHHS and distributed by local, paid residents of the City of Benton Harbor. This action is part of an accelerated, across-the-board effort to reduce the risk of exposure to lead in drinking water while the city replaces all lead service lines.

To arrange water delivery to homebound or residents without transportation in the city of Benton Harbor, contact 211, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Phones that cannot contact 211 should contact 844-875-9211.

Due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, self-serve water distribution at Southwest Community Action Agency will not be available, however, water pickup is available at Benton Harbor High School, on Monday, Jan. 17, from 12 to 2 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. Homebound deliveries will not be made on Monday, Jan. 17, and will resume Tuesday, Jan. 18. Efforts have been made to ensure homebound individuals have enough water to last through the holiday.  

Community volunteers from the following organizations available to assist City of Benton Harbor residents pick up water at Benton Harbor High School, 870 Colfax Avenue as follows:

Saturday, Jan. 15

  • 12 - 2 p.m. - Volunteers from Boys & Girls Club of Benton Harbor
  • 2 - 4 p.m. - Volunteers from New Covenant Community Baptist Church
  • 4 - 6 p.m. - Community volunteers

Sunday, Jan. 16

  • 2 - 4 p.m. - Volunteers from Abundant Life C.O.G.I.C.
  • 4 - 6 pm - Volunteers from Brotherhood of All Nations

Monday, Jan. 17

  • 12 - 2 p.m. - Volunteers from Abundant Life C.O.G.I.C.
  • 4 - 6 p.m. - Volunteers from New Covenant Community Baptist Church

Tuesday, Jan. 18

  • 12 - 2 p.m. - Volunteers from Abundant Life C.O.G.I.C.
  • 4 - 6 p.m. - Volunteers from Ebenezer Baptist Church

Wednesday, Jan. 19

  • 12 - 2 p.m. - Volunteers from Purpose Church Ministries
  • 4 - 6 p.m. - Volunteers from Purpose Church Ministries

Thursday, Jan. 20

  • 12 - 2 p.m. - Volunteers from Ebenezer Baptist Church
  • 4 - 6 p.m. - Volunteers from Brotherhood of All Nations

Southwest Community Action Agency, 331 Miller Street, will host self-serve water pickup as follows:

  • Wednesday, Jan. 19, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, Jan. 20, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Friday, Jan. 21, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Monday, Jan. 24, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Additional dates and locations for bottled water pick up will be added to make sure community needs are met. Information will be posted on Michigan.gov/MiLeadSafe.

The ongoing response in Benton Harbor includes the city, Berrien County Health Department, local community organizations, MDHHS and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for the replacement of lead service lines in Benton Harbor in 18 months and the Whitmer-Gilchrist Administration has provided just under $20 million to Benton Harbor to speed up their service line replacement timeline.  

There is no cost to City of Benton Harbor residents for lead service line replacement. To assist with assuring the work can be completed as soon as possible, residents are encouraged to complete the Water Service Line Replacement Agreement available online. Contractors cannot begin work on any property without property owner authorization. Completed forms can be returned to Abonmarche, 95 West Main Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022 or emailed to bvasher@abonmarche.com.

These efforts also include recently approved funds to remove lead from homes in the city. Families living in Benton Harbor can apply for this service by filling out and mailing in an application that is available online. Residents also can call 866-691-5323 to obtain information. 

For questions about lead, MDHHS can be reached at 866-691-5323 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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Tri-County Head Start blood lead testing flyer