More than 200,000 Memphis homes have potential lead problems, county says

WATCH: Testing for lead at home

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Did you know more than 200,000 Memphis homes have potential lead problems?

That's according to numbers from the Shelby County Department of Housing in 2017.

To help with the problem the Environmental Protection Agency started a lead prevention pilot program in Shelby county and partnered with Le Bonheur and other organizations.

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When you think about water problems Flint, Michigan, comes to mind but similar issues are right here in Memphis.

A 2017 report from the lead prevention pilot program shows 15,000 to 20,000 children are screened for lead poisoning each year with 225 testing  positive.

"It shows that Memphis is the second highest city for risk in the southeast for young children," said Dr. Jason Yaun with Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.

To help curb this, Le Bonheur is working with housing agencies and the EPA to find out what homes have lead hazards.

In 2017 researchers found more than 200,000 built before the 1980s have potential lead problems.

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More recently Le Bonheur assessed more than 100 homes in north Memphis for lead in the last 6 months.

"A lot of the homes built before 1978 might still have lead paint in them, lead in the soil or other sources of lead through the water and things like that," said Dr. Yaun.

Homeowners can actually test water at home with kits for about $10 from Home Depot or other hardware stores.

It's important to remember to wait 6 hours before you take a sample to have the most accurate results.

You just need to fill up a quart of water, pour it inside the test tube then ship it off.

It takes about a week to get the results back.

Dr. Yaun said it's important to make sure your water is lead free to stay healthy.

"We have thresholds for cutoff testing for lead but as far as we know there is no level of lead exposure that is considered safe," said Dr. Yaun.

It costs about $40 to ship off a test.