Taking the test
A child may visit their doctor for an annual child wellness check. Often times the doctor will ask the parent what year their house was built as a method for screening for lead poisoning. If the property is built before 1978, the doctor may decide to collect a blood sample from the child to determine if they have been exposed to lead. The physician is required by law to report results of all blood tests to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
Minnesota Department of Health's role
MDH refers the child's blood work to the City of Minneapolis if the lead level is greater than 5 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dl).
A child who has a blood lead level of 5 micrograms per deciliter is considered to have an "elevated blood lead level" or be lead poisoned by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The City of Minneapolis is required by MDH to respond to cases of lead poisoning in children. A mandatory lead risk assessment of the child's home is performed if the child's blood lead level is 5 μ/dl or higher. At the risk assessment, inspectors will visually inspect all painted surfaces for chipping and peeling paint. An XRF machine is used to test painted surfaces for lead content. The inspector will hold the machine up to the painted surface without harming the surface. The XRF machine will read the "finger print" of the paint. Within seconds the lead content of the paint is known.
Next the inspector will collect wipe samples for lead dust from floors, window wells and window sills. Soil samples will also be collected. Both dust and soil samples will be analyzed by a laboratory and will take a few days to receive the results. A risk assessment report is issued to the owner within 30 days of the Risk Assessment. The risk assessment report contains the test results and orders to correct any lead hazards within 60 days. Generally, correction orders require the owner to stabilize painted surfaces, replace windows, clean windows and floors and cover bare soil. Owners are required to participate in a lead safe work practices course before completing the work. Rental property owners are required to take the US EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) course.
Meeting the property owners
The City of Minneapolis will meet on site with property owners to review risk assessment reports and discuss the correction orders as requested. The owner chooses either to complete correction orders on their own, or to enroll in one of HUD's Grant Opportunities. Lead is considered a hazardous material. Because of this, under state law families may not be present while the repairs are being made to their home. The repair work is regulated by the Minnesota Department of Health and a notification of lead related work must be submitted to MHD before the work is commenced. Often times, families stay with another family member, friend, hotel or other options through the City of Minneapolis while the work is being done. The family is usually relocated for approximately one week while the repairs are being made.
At the completion of lead hazard repair work, the City of Minneapolis will conduct a clearance inspection to determine if the lead hazards have been abated and if the property is safe to re-occupy. If the property owner fails to comply with the order, the property owner will receive administrative citations and/or the residence may be condemned.