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The original item was published from 10/24/2018 1:49:00 PM to 11/8/2018 12:39:03 PM.

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Health News

Posted on: October 24, 2018

[ARCHIVED] Water Quality Concerns

BH Water

The City of Benton Harbor Water Department has issued a Public Advisory notifying water customers of elevated levels of lead in the drinking water based on recent samples. In collaboration with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), the City of Benton Harbor Water Department is fully investigating the water source, distribution system, and individual homes to better identify the issue. Questions regarding water quality testing, lead tests for children, or other concerns can be directed to the Water Response Hotline at 1-800-815-5485. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I get my water tested?

If you are a City of Benton Harbor water customer, you can pick up a water bottle and instructions for collecting your own water sample starting on Thursday, October 25th from 9am-5pm at 200 Paw Paw in Benton Harbor.

Berrien County residents outside of the City of Benton Harbor are encouraged to contact their municipal water system with questions regarding water quality testing or recent results for their water system. 

Should I have my child tested for lead?

Children under the age of 6 are at the highest risk for elevated blood lead levels. Lead can harm a child's growth, behavior, and ability to learn. Lead exposure happens when children come in
contact with lead, generally from lead-based paint, or possibly from lead plumbing supplying drinking water. A simple blood test can determine the level of lead in your child's blood. Contact your family doctor or the Berrien County Health Department to ask about getting a lead test for your child if you believe they may have been at risk of lead exposure.

What does the data show about children with elevated blood lead levels?

The Berrien County Health Department keeps track of elevated blood lead levels in at-risk children under the age of 6 in all Berrien County communities. Recent data has shown a decrease in elevated blood lead levels for children in Berrien County as well as those in the Benton Harbor zip code 49022. 

Percentage of At-Risk Children Under Age 6 With Elevated Blood Lead Levels
(above 5 μg/dL)

Berrien County5.2%5.3%3.8%3.0%3.8%3.5%2.8%
49022 Zip Code8.0%8.3%5.2%4.0%3.4%4.4%3.0%

Is Lead poisoning preventable?

Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. The key is stopping children from coming into contact with lead and treating children who have been poisoned by lead.  Lead hazards in a child’s environment, such as lead-based paint or lead plumbing, must be identified and removed safely. Children who are at risk for lead poisoning need to be tested and, if necessary, treated.

What is the Berrien County Health Department doing?

The Berrien County Health Department monitors elevated blood lead levels in at-risk children around Berrien County. Our public health nurses provide individualized case management, education, and resources for families who have children with elevated blood lead levels to help them identify lead exposure risks and create a healthy home.

Where can I go to find more information?

Water Response Hotline: 1-800-815-5485

For more information on water testing, water system questions, and how to determine if you have a lead service line, please see the City of Benton Harbor Website

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