MDHHS Benton Harbor Lead Safe Home Program Frequently asked questions

The MDHHS Lead Safe Home Program is pleased to provide Benton Harbor residents with a free in-home lead inspection to find lead hazards in the home, as well as plumbing replacement and lead abatement to fix these lead hazards in the home.   

In homes built before 1978, we will identify all lead in paint, dust, soil and drinking water, and will fix those hazards to prevent lead exposure.  In homes built after 1978, we will identify and fix lead found in plumbing. 

How can I make sure to minimize the chance of lead in my drinking water?

  • You can sign up for a free MDHHS Home Lead Inspection.  The plumbing assessment and repairs will remove lead from your plumbing and water testing will be completed to show that it worked.  
  • Follow the MDHHS recommendations to keep your water moving and regularly clean aerators to ensure you have the best water quality in your home.
    • Keep your water moving every day by running it several seconds to bring new water into your home’s pipes before using it for drinking, cooking, and making baby formula.
    • You can keep your water moving by doing everyday activities, such as:
      • Running your water until it is cold
      • Taking a shower
      • Running a load of laundry
      • Running your dishwasher
    • Clean the aerators on your faucets at least once every six months to remove trapped debris.

Why should I have a lead inspection in my house?

  • Finding and fixing all lead hazards in and around a home, including paint, dust, water, and soil, is the key to preventing lead exposure.  
  • A lead inspection will identify if your home contains older lead-containing plumbing as well as other potential sources of lead within the paint, dust, or soil in and around your home.  
  • Eliminating all sources of exposure will ensure you and your family can reside in a lead-safe home.  

Why are these services important? 

  • Lead can be found throughout a child’s environment including homes built before 1978 (when lead-based paint was banned), as well as in older plumbing.  
  • Pre-1978 painted houses can be major contributor of lead in soil around the outside base of the house.   Adults, children, and pets can track that lead -contaminated soil into the home. Once in the home, lead dust can circulate in the air or be incidentally ingested through hand to mouth behaviors. 
  • Lead or galvanized plumbing and faucets manufactured before 2014 could pose a potential lead exposure risk as well.  
  • There is no known safe level of lead in blood for children.   Exposure to lead can seriously harm a child’s health and cause adverse health effects such as damage to the brain and nervous system, slowed growth and development, and learning and behavior problems.  
  • Even low levels of lead have been shown to negatively impact a child’s intelligence, ability to pay attention and academic achievement.  
  • More information on lead exposure and its health effects can be found at

What services are being provided through this program?

Home Lead Inspection (includes Plumbing Assessment and Lead Safe Home Assessment)

  • A Plumbing Assessment will determine whether your plumbing or fixtures could be a source of lead in your drinking water.
    • A visual plumbing inspection will assess plumbing and faucet materials.
    • If lead or galvanized plumbing is found, you will be placed on the list with the certified plumber for plumbing replacement.  The plumber will contact you to schedule the work on your home.  
    • If lead or galvanized plumbing is NOT found, we will collect water samples from your plumbing to look for any lead in your drinking water. We will schedule a time to return to your home to conduct this water sampling in the following 1-2 weeks because water must sit undisturbed for six hours to ensure accurate water results.   
  • A Lead Safe Home Assessment will identify the location of lead hazards from paint, dust, and soil in your home or yard so they can be fixed.

Plumbing Repairs and Home Lead Abatement

  • Plumbing Repairs or Replacement will remove contributing source(s) of lead in interior home plumbing.
    • A final home water testing report will be provided to describe completed work and water quality after plumbing repair or replacement.
    • Consultation will be provided to explain the report, water results and the daily choices that household members can make to maintain the highest water quality in their home.
  • Home Lead Abatement will fix lead hazards identified in paint, dust, and soil within and around the home.
    • Occupant(s) will be provided a Lead Abatement Report to describe completed lead abatement work and required ongoing maintenance.
    • Consultation will be provided to explain the report, the work completed and methods the household can follow to maintain the home in a lead-safe manner.

Who is eligible for this program? 

  • All Benton Harbor residents living in privately-owned rental or owner-occupied homes are eligible for these services.

When is this program available?

  • The program is available now.  Over the next several years, the goal of the program is to make every home in Benton Harbor lead-safe.

 How does a resident apply for these services? 

  • An application for the program must be completed and submitted to MDHHS before services can be provided.
  • The application is available at or by calling 866.691.5323.
  • Tenants can apply for these services by submitting this application. Permission will be needed from the landlord for plumbing and lead abatement work as these are modifications made to the home.  MDHHS can obtain permission from your landlord if you have difficulties.  

Can you explain the Home Plumbing process? 

  • The Lead Safe Home team will be in the home for 10-15 minutes to perform a brief plumbing inspection.  
  • During this inspection, they will:
    • Explain the process and answer any questions you may have.
    • Visually inspect the plumbing to look for the presence of lead or galvanized components.
    • Take photographs of the plumbing components.
    • All information collected will remain confidential.
  • If lead or galvanized plumbing is found, Home Depot will replace your household plumbing at no cost to you.
  • If lead or galvanized plumbing is not found (if you have copper or Pex), a staff person will come back in the following 1-2 months to collect water samples as water must be undisturbed for six hours for accurate water results.
  • After any necessary plumbing work is completed, additional water samples will be collected to ensure you can safely consume your water without filtering.   

Can you explain the Lead Safe Home Assessment Process?

  • The Lead Safe Home team will be in the home for 4-6 hours for the Lead Safe Home Assessment.  
  • During the inspection, they will:
    • Explain the process and answer any questions you may have.
    • Use a special machine to test all painted surfaces inside and outside the home for the presence of lead.
    • Collect dust and soil samples.
    • Take photographs of the housing components for the inspection report only.
    • All information collected will remain confidential.
  • The process is:
    • Intensive and may appear invasive because all areas of the home must be accessed to identify lead in painted surfaces.
    • Necessary to ensure ALL sources of lead exposure are identified and ultimately fixed.  
  • The program’s goal is to make homes lead-safe and healthy.  While the entire process may feel invasive, the program aims to provide services to every household with compassion and care.  

How quickly will my plumbing be addressed?

  • The plumbing inspection and plumbing mitigation will occur quickly and will be the first step after your application is received.
  • Lead Abatement (lead in paint, dust, and soil) will follow the plumbing work at a later date.  This approach is necessary due to a lead abatement workforce shortage.
  • The timeline for services is estimated as follows.

Lead safe timeline

What will I receive if I enroll in these services?

 Pre-1978 Homes

  • If the home is found to have lead or galvanized plumbing, the plumbing inside your home will be replaced.
  • If the home is found to have paint, dust and soil lead hazards, lead abatement will be performed. This may include repairs such as replacing windows and doors, painting, vinyl siding and other important work.  
  • Pre-2014 bathroom and kitchen faucets used for drinking water will be replaced.

Post-1978 Homes

  • If the home is found to have lead or galvanized plumbing, interior plumbing will be replaced.   
  • If your home does not have lead or galvanized plumbing but water samples indicate lead in water, plumbing repairs will occur as needed.  
  • Pre-2014 bathroom and kitchen faucets used for drinking water will be replaced.

Is there a cost for these services?

  • There is no cost for plumbing or lead abatement services in owner-occupied homes.
  • Rental property owners will be asked to contribute a small amount to the overall cost of the lead abatement work only.  
  • There is no cost-share required for rental property owners for plumbing work.  

 What will the program do to ensure my home is lead-safe?

  • After plumbing work is complete, water testing will be done to determine if your water can be used without a filter.  
  • After lead abatement work is complete, a visual inspection and dust samples will be collected to ensure no lead hazards remain in the home.
  • After plumbing work and lead abatement work is complete, information will be provided to those living at the household on how they can maintain a lead -safe home.

What is the benefit for a property owner?

In addition to making the home lead-safe for occupants, these services:

  • Can increase energy efficiency when lead abatement addresses windows and doors.
  • Can increase value and appearance of home.
  • Can create pride in ownership and neighborhood.

Who is providing these services?

  • MDHHS is pleased to provide these services in partnership with Home Depot.
  • MDHHS has provided these services to Michigan households since 1997.

What factors influence success of this program?

  • The program success will depend on:
    • Community participation and completion of applications.
    • Workforce availability.
    • Continued funding.
  • To ensure success in completing each home, residents must:  
    • Complete and submit the application.
    • Allow MDHHS and its contractors in the home several times during this process.
    • Relocate during some portions of the work to ensure resident safety.