DETROIT (WJBK) - The city of Detroit has torn down thousands of homes in recent years, but has the blight fight caused health problems for some kids?
The demolitions of old, abandoned Detroit homes and buildings could be contributing according to a report.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun says the results of a preliminary study last year show a potential link between demolitions and elevated blood lead levels in children. The number of affected children in the city increasing from 7.5 percent in 2015 to 8.8 percent in 2016.
"There's no question that the reason why children in Detroit are primarily being poisoned, is because of old lead paint in the homes," said Khaldun, the Detroit Health Department director. "Perhaps children are playing outside and perhaps they are being exposed to dust from a demolition.
"We're not sure what the real cause may be, we don't know if it is actually true. We will be doing another study to get more details on what that association may be."
Khaldun says the results of a preliminary study last year show a potential link between demolitions and elevated blood lead levels in children. The number of affected children in the city increasing from 7.5 percent in 2015 to 8.8 percent in 2016.
Regardless, the city has decided to suspend demolitions during the warmer months this year in five Detroit zip codes: 48202, 48204, 48206, 48213 and 48214. Khaldun says those zip codes have a higher number of children with elevated lead levels.
"We're really trying to move from a reactive- to a proactive approach," Khaldun said.
The city is launching a new $1.25 million Interagency Lead Poisoning Prevention Task Force this summer. It will be a partnership with Wayne State University, Clear Core Detroit and city programs, which plan to go into those neighborhoods to identify potential hazards.
"Why don't we just get inside of these homes before we have a child that is poisoned," she said.
Khaldun says this summer they will be knocking on the doors of about 4,000 homes. Specifically, homes with young children and pregnant women.
Khaldun says lead poisoning can change a child's life forever causing learning disabilities and problems with brain development. The department focusing on educating families, offering in-home lead testing, free cleaning kits and even paint removal.
"Sometimes the most immediate risk is if that lead paint is actually chipping and peeling and children are able to pick it up and put it in their mouths," she said.
Meanwhile the department is doing an overall evaluation of the city's demolition project and its possible health effects, are urging families to get their homes tested before a child is poisoned.
"One child poisoned with lead is one too many," she said.