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Federal grant to keep children safe from lead poisoning

Salt Lake County Department of Housing & Community Development was awarded a federal grant on Friday to go towards their Lead Safe Housing program.

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — The Salt Lake County Housing and Community Development Office joined community partners on Friday to highlight their Lead-Safe Housing program.

That program got a serious boost after Salt Lake County recently was awarded a $5.1 million federal grant.

The check was presented to Mayor Jenny Wilson and the funds will help to ensure 260 homes across the county are lead-safe.

Officials with the Housing and Community Development Office say lead poisoning is still a major concern, especially in homes built prior to 1978.

And Salt Lake officials say there are many homes in the area that fit that description.

“[In] Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake City there’s 20,000 housing units built before 1940 and 90-percent of those will have a fairly high degree of lead-based paint,” explained Randal Jepperson, Housing Manager with Salt Lake County.

While lead poisoning is a concern for everyone, it’s especially troublesome for kids.

“Children under the age of six, are at particular risk of lead poisoning because they frequently place their hands, toys, and other objects that could have dust from lead-based paint, in their mouths,” according to the Salt Lake County website.

Officials say their main goal is to keep children safe.

“It will mean that 400 children won’t be poisoned with lead, because of our program,” explains Jepperson.

Lead paint in older homes has drawn significant attention, but that’s not the only place where lead can be found in a home.

It also can be found in toys, stained glass and ceramic ware.

Most families, especially those with young kids, say it’s a high priority to have their home checked for any toxins.

Paul Kuttner has a seven-year-old child and lives in an older home. He says it’s important to ensure that his child and any other children stepping inside aren’t being put in danger.

He was at Jordan Park on Friday to sign-up for the county service.

“Having someone who can come help with this [and] having free services would just be huge to have peace of mind and really feel like I’m doing what I need to for my family,” says Kuttner.

County employees will review the applications received Friday and determine which families fit their qualifications.

Salt Lake County says many residents can qualify for free services by filling out a quick pre-application form.