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Lead poisoning is one of the greatest health risks that children face. Ingestion of even very small amounts of lead can cause a variety of severe and irreversible health problems, including decreased muscle and bone growth, speech and language problems, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, and decreased intelligence. Children under the age of 7 are especially at risk because their brains are still developing.

Lead was used in both interior and exterior paint until 1978. Seventy percent of the housing in St. Joseph County was built before 1978, which puts residents at high risk for lead-based paint hazards. Children can be exposed to lead-based paint that is chipping and cracking or lead-based paint dust. Areas of concern around the home that children may chew or that get a lot of wear and tear include windows, window sills, doors, door frames, stairs, railings, banisters, and porches.

Lead Risk Assessments

The St. Joseph County Department of Health conducts free lead risk assessments in homes with children under the age of 7, homes where pregnant women reside, or homes where a lead-poisoned child has already been identified.

To schedule a lead risk assessment or to get more information about lead poisoning, contact the Department of Health at (574) 235-9722 or (574) 235-9750, Extension 7923.


Additional Resources

Blood Lead Tests

If you do not have a primary care provider, the Department of Health offers free blood lead draws for children under the age of 7.

Labcorp accepts our certificates for a free blood lead draw at these two locations:

  • 225 N. Notre Dame Avenue, Suite 110, South Bend, IN  46601
  • 118 W. Edison Rd, Mishawaka, IN 46545

South Bend

227 W. Jefferson Blvd. 9th Floor
South Bend, IN 46601
(574) 235-9750 - Option 5
HOURS: Monday, Wednesday and Friday
8:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m. & 1:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m.


219 Lincolnway West
Mishawaka, IN 46544
(574) 235-9750 - Option 5
HOURS: Monday and Wednesday
8:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m. & 1:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m.

For the Do-it-Yourselfer

Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program: Do-It-Yourselfers

Although the Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule does not apply to homeowners renovating, repairing, or painting their own homes, do-it-yourself projects can easily create dangerous lead dust. Protect your family and home – set up safely, control the dust, and clean up completely.

Follow these safeguards to prevent lead dust from spreading throughout your home:

Follow Good Work Practices

Plan for and complete a home renovation, repair, or painting project using lead-safe work practices.

Other Resources:

Work Safely

  • Remove all furniture, area rugs, curtains, food, clothing, and other household items until cleanup is complete.
  • Items that cannot be removed from the work area should be tightly wrapped with plastic sheeting and sealed with tape.
  • Cover floors with plastic sheeting.
  • If working on a larger job, construct an airlock at the entry to the work area.
    • The airlock consists of two sheets of thick plastic. One sheet is completely taped along all four edges.
    • The plastic sheet is then cut down the middle.
    • The second sheet is only taped along the top and acts as a flap covering the slit in the first sheet of plastic.
  • Turn off forced-air heating and air conditioning systems. Cover vents with plastic sheeting and tape the sheeting in place with tape.
  • Close all windows in the work area.
  • If disturbing paint, when using a hand tool, spray water on lead-painted surfaces to keep dust from spreading.