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Health department shares safety tips for National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

Health department officials recommend getting your body's lead levels tested by your doctor.

As water issues in Benton Harbor continue, local health departments are spreading awareness this week about staying safe from lead poisoning.

It's National Lead Poisoning Prevention week. With lead water pipes a topic of statewide discussion right now, District Health Department #10 shares tips on how to keep you and your children safe from getting sick.

Whether it's through lead pipes in the water system or old homes with lead paint, Jessica Miller with the department says it's not just an issue in larger cities, like Flint or Benton Harbor.

"Water in the pipes, it's a city thing, so it's always going to make the headlines," she says. "But it's still in our small rural communities, it's throughout all of Michigan."

So what's the first line of defense? Miller recommends getting your body's lead levels tested by your doctor.

"It's not visible, like if you're sick and you have a cough," she says. "You won't see it until your levels are extremely high."

Which in children, especially, can be too late.

"It can cause developmental issues because they're growing so rapidly and that's when brain development happens," says Miller. "We recommend at ages one and two to have that testing done."

Checking for lead in your water is easily done at home but you can also always ask for help as well.

"Most of your home improvement stores have kits," says Miller. "Or you can reach out to your local health departments, they'll tell you what to look for and what your risks are going to be."

As Miller says, being aware can save your life.

"It's knowing the source," she says. "It's knowing where it can be coming from."

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