Clinic travels to get lead out of kids

The Sustainable Resource Center is offering free blood-lead checks for young children -- and it is bringing the clinic to the kids.

"We will go anywhere in the city of Minneapolis, to daycare sites or any other type of community site that has kids under age 6," said Megan Curran, the Center's health education manager. "It is the first time this has been done in the metro area. We are trying to catch the kids who don't have a primary care provider."

Lead is a neurotoxin and can lower intelligence and cause hyperactivity in children, she said.

The Center, 1916 2nd Ave. S., received a $9,000, three-month grant for the project from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, funneled through the National Lead Safe Kids Coalition, Curran said.

The grant pays for a nurse from the Minnesota Visiting Nurses Association, a project coordinator and a health educator, she said. The money is expected to run out by the end of April.

"We hope with the results we will continue to get funded," she said.

The Center held its first clinic Feb. 12 at Waite House, 2529 Pillsbury Ave. S., Curran said.

The next one scheduled is at Waite House Wednesday, March 12, 10-11:30 a.m.

Children at the clinics give a simple finger-stick blood sample. If they test positive for lead, the Center works with families to get a follow-up test, taken from a vein.

If a child has a blood lead level of 20 micrograms per deciliter or greater, the city is required to inspect the home or apartment and do a risk assessment, Curran said. A test of between 15 and 20 is an elevated blood lead level and the city will offer the assessment, but not require it.

The Center has had workers from CLEARCorp (Community Lead Education and Reduction Corp.) since 1995, Curran said. It believes any lead reading above 0 is a problem and offers home assessments to families of children who test positive for lead. An inspector will come with an XMF machine that can detect the presence of lead.

To request a community clinic, get clinic locations, or for a free home inspection, call Curran at 872-3282.