Lead Poisoning at a Glance 

Lead poisoning, with its negative impact on young children, is a public health problem of continuing importance. A great deal of leaded paint still exists in older housing. Each year thousands of children continue to be exposed to lower doses of lead that can result in subtle but serious health problems.  In fact, 75 percent of all homes built in the United States before 1978 have lead-based paint. There are thousands of homes in Winnebago County with lead based paint in them.

The Illinois Department of Public Health just released its Illinois Lead Program 2016 Annual Surveillance Report. Click here to view the report.

 Creating Lead Safe Rockford Program

The “Creating Lead Safe Rockford” (CLSR) program of the Winnebago County Health Department is currently taking applications for consideration of houses for lead mitigation. The program and its partners have received funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to mitigate lead hazards for at least 150 low- to moderate-income households in Stephenson, Winnebago, and Boone counties, both rental or owner-occupied. The Health Department is the managing agency in conducting the initial home inspections to identify lead hazards, approving the work orders, and ensuring the work has been completed successfully in a lead safe manner. To qualify for this program, the following requirements must be met:

  • Property must be in Stephenson, Winnebago, or Boone County in Illinois
  • Home must be constructed prior to 1978
  • A child under the age of 6 residing in the home or visiting frequently
  • Income eligibility based on household size
  • Funds are limited, so resources will only be used to correct lead hazards. Homes which meet the prerequisites, but have severe structural defects, will not be allowed in the program. 

Frequently Asked Questions

If my children are all 6 years old or older can I still participate?  
Possibly. Due to HUD grant guidelines there must be a child under 6 years old either living in or spending more than 6 hours a week at the property. Homes with well-documented visiting children and daycares will be accepted. If you or someone in your home is pregnant, you may qualify as well.  

What is a lead based paint inspection/risk assessment? 
A Lead Based Paint (LBP) inspection is a surface by surface investigation to determine the presence of LBP. A risk assessment is an on-site investigation of residential dwellings to discover any lead based paint hazards. Both are completed at the same time during the CLSR inspection.  

How long will it take to have the work done and complete the program?  
Depending on the number of lead hazards identified and the cooperation by all parties, it will take approximately 1 week to remediate the hazards. From start to finish, the entire program can take up to 6 months.  

Will I have to relocate my family or tenants while work is being completed?
Probably. In most cases, you must leave the property while work is in progress. Some applicants will be assisted in making relocation arrangements (subject to terms, conditions, and availability).  

Am I required to repair any lead hazards that have been identified? 
All lead hazards identified during the risk assessment must be corrected whether or not the property is further enrolled into the program. Creating Lead Safe Rockford 2011 is designed to cover contracted costs up to an average of $10,000 for supplies and labor. However, if costs of repairs exceed the maximum amount available through the grant, you may be able to assist with funding the work above and beyond your contribution and / or perform some of the work yourself.  

What if I choose not to participate in the program after I sign-up? 
You have the option of leaving the program up until the signing of the contract with the contractor.   

Will I receive a cash award or stipend to make repairs in my home? 
No. Costs of lead hazard control provided by the CLSR program are paid directly to the contractor by the WCHD.

What if I have a deteriorated window that does NOT contain lead?  
ONLY surfaces that have been identified as a lead hazard are eligible for interim controls or abatement.  

I am a landlord. What will be required of me and my tenants to participate?  
The program staff and contractors performing the work will require entry to the unit numerous times throughout the project. It will be necessary for you to assist in coordinating this. Without access, the work cannot be completed as specified in your contract and required by HUD guidelines.  


I rent and run a family daycare at my home. Do I need the property owner's permission to participate?  
Yes. Both you and the property owner must agree to participate. As the homeowner, your landlord is the one who is required to enter into the agreement and sign the contract. He or she will be the one receiving the supplies & labor. You can certainly encourage his/her participation by offering to work closely with him and the program staff to ensure that you will allow the work to be done.    

It sounds like a lot of work to participate in the program. Is it worth it?

YES! Whether you're a parent, caregiver, or property owner, the safety of our community's kids is of great concern. What better way to protect them than by making sure that no child will be exposed to lead hazards while at your home?   

Lead in Housing:  Why Do We Care?

"A 2005 policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics reviewed several cost-benefit analyses, all showing that eliminating lead from housing would save billions each year because I.Q. translates into earning power which, in turn, translates into tax revenues.

Here are some numbers from the Academy's 2005 statement. There are 4 million homes in the U.S. needing lead removal or encapsulation. At $7000 to clean an average home, eliminating the lead paint problem would require a one-time investment of $28 billion. The savings would be $43 billion in the first year and each year thereafter because children with higher I.Q.s tend to get more schooling and then jobs with higher pay.  So lead remediation would pay for itself in less than one year and would then save tens of billions each year thereafter. . . .

Rebecca Morley is executive director of the National Center for Healthy Housing, dedicated to protecting children from hazards in their homes.  “The return on investment for lead poisoning prevention,” she told me, “is even greater than of one of our best public health interventions – vaccines.  It costs about $38,000 for each lead poisoned child who requires special education.  If only half of the children with lead poisoning required special education it would save $9.5 billion.  Children with lead poisoning are six times more likely to drop out of school and seven times more likely to end up in the juvenile justice system.  Lead poisoning is irreversible, yet entirely preventable.  A recent cost-benefit analysis shows that for every dollar spent to reduce lead hazards there is a benefit of $17-$220.  That’s better than that for vaccines ($5.30-16.50 savings per $1 spent), which have long been described as the single most cost-beneficial medical or public health intervention. "

(Excerpt from

EPA Ruling on Renovation, Repair, Painting

In 2008 the EPA issued a new ruling requiring the use of lead-safe practices and other actions aimed at preventing lead poisoning. Beginning April 22, 2010, contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities and schools built before 1978 must be certified and must follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. To learn more about this new EPA ruling, click Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Lead and RRP Presentation

The Creating Lead Safe Rockford Program is providing assistance for individuals interested in taking the RRP Certification Course.  Contact Ryan Kerch for details.