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What is Lead Safe Atlanta?

The City of Atlanta was newly designated as one of 14 Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) sites in March 2011. The Department’s Office of Housing has oversight of LSA after the City received a $2.1 million grant from HUD, designed to reduce lead hazards in the homes of children less than six years of age. Lead Safe Atlanta (LSA) is a GHHI program lead by the City’s Department of Planning and Community Development.

Who May Apply for a Lead Safe Grant?

Anyone living in or owning a house in the City of Atlanta can apply for this grant program, however, there are several criteria that must be met in order for a property to qualify. In order to qualify for the grant, a property will have to meet the following specifications

  • The property must be located within the City of Atlanta.
  • The property must have been constructed before 1978.
  • A child under the age of 6 must live at or frequently visit the property.
  • The property must contain at least 1 bedroom.
  • The property must have a lead based paint hazard which will be determined by a qualified lead hazard risk assessor.
  • Occupants of the property must not exceed HUD income limits listed below.

    Income Eligibility Chart

    Household Size
    Cannot Exceed per Year

Why is lead exposure more dangerous for children?

Because children are much smaller than adults, exposure to the same amount of lead leads to a much higher concentration of lead in the body.  Children's brains are still developing.  Once the brain is fully developed, around age 25, lead exposure is less likely to interfere with the structure of the brain, but young children can suffer serious developmental problems.

Childhood lead poisoning has been strongly linked to adult criminal behavior and violence on a dose-related basis, meaning the more severe the poisoning, the more serious the behavioral problems.  Lead poisoned children suffer from irritability, lack of concentration, impulsiveness, aggression, and a substantial loss of I.Q., which severely limits their ability to function in school. However, the only way to know if your child has been exposed to lead is to have your child lead tested. Every child should be tested at 12 and 24 months as part of their well-child physicals. Don’t wait for symptoms, by then it could be too late.  

What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?

  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Short attention span
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Poor appetite
  • Constipation
  • Behavioral changes (hyperactivity)

More severe signs include:

  • Changes in consciousness
  • Sight and hearing loss
  • Convulsions


Is there treatment for lead poisoning?

There is chelation (pronounced key-la-tion) therapy, which is dangerous and generally reserved for cases of high level lead poisoning in order to rapidly lower the blood lead level.  Chelation removes lead and other minerals from the blood, but it may also stimulate lead that has been stored in the bones to be released into the bloodstream, which can actually increase the level of lead in the blood.  Chelation can also remove important minerals from the blood, which can be fatal.

Can the damage from lead poisoning be reversed?

Lead poisoning is essentially a permanent condition, which involves quasi-permanent damage in that little or no recovery occurs.  It is generally accepted that the cognitive damage from lead poisoning is irreversible.  Lead is also known to reduce recovery from all types of brain damage.  Currently, the only viable "treatment" is to prevent lead exposure by removing the lead source.

How does lead exposure occur?

Most children are exposed to lead through contact with lead-contaminated dust.  Even very small amounts can pose a substantial health risk.  Deteriorating lead paint is the number one source of lead dust.  Small children can ingest it while crawling on the floor, or by putting their hands or other objects in their mouths.  Lead from deteriorating paint can also contaminate the soil around a building – more than 75 percent of housing units in the U.S. have some level of lead contamination.  The general rule of thumb is, the older the property, the greater the chance of lead contamination.  Some other sources of contamination include plumbing fixtures, drinking vessels or food containers made with lead, and some folk remedies from Mexico, Central America, Asia, India and the Middle East.

How can I protect my children from lead poisoning?

Fortunately there are a number of things you can do to reduce the chance of your children being exposed to lead:


Test for lead - Request a lead blood test at your doctor’s office.

You can also call the Fulton County at 404-612-4000 to find information about how the office collects samples of paint and dust in the homes of children diagnosed with elevated lead blood levels and analyzed for lead content. If there is lead present in the home, the property owner is advised of mitigation methods to reduce the exposure of children to lead in the home.

Keep painted surfaces intact and clean -
Even if lead paint is present underneath the current paint, there is little danger as long as the top layer is not peeling or flaking and the surface is kept dust-free.  Dust painted surfaces with a wet rag or mop.  Chipped areas can be temporarily covered with cloth tape to prevent lead dust from spreading.

Use a HEPA filter -
Using a vacuum with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter will remove lead dust and paint chips from carpeting and drapes.  Regular vacuums can release lead particles back into the air.  If a HEPA-equipped vacuum is not available, steam-cleaning is the next best option. However, for those with asthma, it is best to use the HEPA vacuum.

Avoid contact with exposed soil -
Contaminated soil is a major source of lead poisoning.  You can reduce the chances of lead exposure by preventing your children from playing in bare soil, making sure they wash their hands and wipe their shoes when they come inside, and regularly washing toys that have been used outside.

Do not let your child eat candy imported from Mexico -
Most candy made in Mexico is now made in factories, where lead sometimes finds its way into the product.  Although steps are being taken to remedy this, currently the safest course of action is to avoid Mexican candies, especially those made with chili or tamarind, unless it’s on the safe candy list. For updated information and materials, go to www.leadinmexicancandy.com.

Make sure your child's toys are lead-free -
Lead has been found in a variety of children's toys, both imported and domestic.  A number of these have been recalled.  For a list of recalled products, go to www.cpsc.gov.




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Copyright © 2011 Green & Healthy Homes Initiative Atlanta. All Rights Reserved.
Lead Safe Atlanta and Healthy Homes Atlanta are two great programs under the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative designed to provide free, practical improvements in your home to increase health and safety for your family.

For information on GHHI Atlanta and the Healthy Homes Atlanta program:
Phone: 404-223-3303 or email: ghhi@tcwfi.org
Fax: 404-586-0513

For information on the Lead Safe Atlanta program:
Phone: 404-546-LEAD or email: ghhi@tcwfi.org
Fax: 404-586-0513

By Mail:
The Center for Working Families, Inc.
Attn: Green and Healthy Homes
477 Windsor Street | Suite 101
Atlanta, GA 30291

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