home repair

Advocates Applaud New Michigan Bill to Protect Families from Lead 

Published on May 8, 2023

HB 4532 calls for the safe treatment of lead by contractors and rental property owners during home renovations and repairs  

Lansing, MI, May 8, 2023. Grand Rapids State Representative Rachel Hood has introduced the Lead Abatement; Renovation and Repair Paint Program Bill, also known as HB 4532. The primary goal of this bill is to ensure the safety of families and workers during professional home renovations. By transferring the administration of the federal EPA Renovation and Repair Paint Act to the State of Michigan, this bill will ensure compliance and enforcement measures are followed. 

Children and other sensitive populations can be exposed to dangerous levels of lead during the renovation of homes built before 1978, the year lead in paint was banned. The federal Renovation, Repair, and Painting Act (RRP) requires building contractors to be certified for lead-safe work on old (pre-1978) homes. Activities falling under the RRP Rule include: remodeling, repair, electrical work, plumbing, painting preparation, carpentry, and window replacement. Yet, due to a lack of federal resources, the RRP Rule is not being well enforced. As a result, few Michigan contractors are trained or certified in safety practices for the disturbing of lead paint, putting residents and workers at risk. 

Michigan HB 4532 would bring the administration of the federal RRP Rule to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). Michigan oversight of this federal program will increase its efficiency, keep the program in touch with Michigan-specific issues, and allow for a higher standard of care when removing lead.

“Lead impacts a child’s brain and nervous system and can cause lifelong effects. In Michigan, 70% of homes were built before 1978, causing lead paint in homes to be the leading cause of lead poisoning in the state,” said Melissa Cooper Sargent, environmental health advocate with the Ecology Center. “Over 4,000 Michigan children are lead poisoned annually.”

“Lead paint can chip, flake, or  peel off to create lead  dust or contaminate soil. That, in turn, makes it easy for young children to ingest it,” said Ellen Vial of the Michigan Environmental Council. “Additionally, rental homes are especially prone to lead issues, as resident turnover is high and disengaged landlords may not remediate their property or provide important information to future tenants.”

“The RRP Rule applies to contractors or landlords working in houses built before 1978. Activities falling under the RRP Rule include: remodeling, repair, electrical work, plumbing, painting preparation, carpentry and window replacement. All of these activities can easily disturb lead paint and create lead dust and paint chips, which are extremely dangerous to children’s health,” said Mary Sue Schottenfels, staff person for the Detroit Lead Parent Advocacy Group/DLEAD. “Adopting the EPA RRP Rule as a state law is imperative to allow for tighter enforcement and save children’s future well being.” 

“Healthy, happy, and safe housing should be a right for all children. Children in Kent County are exposed to harmful housing hazards like lead poisoning, low air quality, and preventable injuries due to aging housing stock. We believe that regardless of race or economic status, every child deserves to live in safe and healthy housing,” said Jameela Maun, executive director of Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan. “We strongly encourage and support the RRP (Lead Abatement: Renovation Repair Program Bill) as it creates a standard policy of the practice to ensure lead safety security is advanced in housing practices. It not only creates a system of standards but allows a window of opportunity for our community to protect the health of our future leaders.”


The Ecology Center, founded in 1970, is a Michigan-based nonprofit environmental health organization working at the local, state, and national levels for clean production, healthy communities, environmental justice, and a sustainable future. The Ecology Center founded the Great Lakes Lead Elimination Network, through which we collectively address lead poisoning in every state in the Great Lakes region. In 2021, the Ecology Center launched the Lead Impacted Families Together (LIFT) program, working closely with lead affected families in Michigan, to empower them with tools to advocate for better lead policies. For more information visit www.ecocenter.org and follow @Ecology_Center

The Detroit Lead Parent Advocacy Group (DLEAD), sponsored by the Wayne State University Center for Urban Studies, is a group of parents, educators, and community partners who are working to build awareness and create strategies to end lead poisoning for Detroit’s children. We share awareness, education, and prevention techniques with families with a child who has elevated blood lead levels. DLEAD is guided by a leadership group of parents and grandparents of lead poisoned children. Over the past two years, DLEAD members have achieved many successes including: successfully passing Lead Prevention Resolutions for the City of Detroit and Wayne County Commission, testifying to federal, state, county, and city lawmakers about lead reduction priorities, and features in several news publications. DLEAD’s legislative priority strategies include: Universal Lead Testing (annually testing every child under 6 for lead), Lead Abatement; Renovation and Repair Paint Program Bill, lead-safe rental properties in Detroit, lead-safe housing for all (including relocation). cus.wayne.edu/research/healthy-homes/dlead 

Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan is dedicated to prioritizing children's health and wellbeing by eliminating harmful housing conditions, beginning in Grand Rapids’ hardest hit neighborhoods. We believe that all children will grow up in healthy homes free of environmental hazards, accomplished through direct service programs, community outreach, education, and advocacy. Our operating principles guide our work, those principles are Environmental Justice - We will promote environmental justice and health equity in all of our actions. Empowering Families - We will use a family-centered approach to promote housing environments where children thrive and achieve their highest potential. Respect - We will provide services to all people in a culturally sensitive manner that respects dignity. Integrity - We will be honest and above reproach in all our personal and professional relationships. www.healthyhomescoalition.org

Michigan Environmental Council is a coalition of over 80 organizations created in 1980 to lead Michigan’s environmental movement in achieving positive change through public policy solutions. MEC combines deep environmental policy expertise with close connections to key state and federal decision-makers, decades of experience getting things done in the political process, and an ability to rally broad and powerful alliances in support of reforms. For thirteen years, MEC has sponsored and facilitated the Michigan Alliance for Lead Safe Homes Coalition, a group of advocates, impacted residents, and public health professionals dedicated to lead poisoning prevention and expanding resources for Michigan families through state policy reform. For more information, visit www.environmental council.org.