State Must Take Immediate Action to Address Lead Poisoning of Wisconsin Children
Outdated standards and testing procedures pose public health threat
MADISON – Yesterday, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced they will make funds available to remove lead pipes in certain communities. There are an estimated 176,000 lead services lines in Wisconsin and 70,000 in Milwaukee alone. However, the $11.8 million being made available will only replace just under 4,000 lead lines statewide. In response to the announcement, Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) issued the following statement:
“While I’m pleased the DNR is making these funds available to underserved communities to replace lead pipes, the state must immediately act to bring our lead standards and testing procedures in line with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Though acknowledging the alarming rates of lead poisoned children in our state, including in communities such as Milwaukee, Watertown, Buffalo County and others that have incidents of child lead poisoning that far exceed Flint, Michigan, the Department of Health Services (DHS) has failed to take legally required and necessary steps to address this crisis. The Walker Administration is putting children’s health and lives at risk. They must provide more support for Local Public Health Agencies grappling with this crisis.
“This session, I sponsored Assembly Bill 957, which would have addressed the standard and testing noncompliance, but it was not acted upon. Our standards need to be updated immediately – what counts as lead poisoning in Wisconsin is double the federal standard and triple the federal standard for requiring mitigation take place. DHS could take the steps outlined in my bill to protect the health and lives of Wisconsin children. Lead will continue to cause a public health crisis if mitigation programs are not adequately funded and if our standards aren’t brought into federal compliance.”
Lead poisoning, especially in children under 6, causes a lifetime of health and behavioral issues, including reduced intelligence, learning disabilities, and developmental delays.
Rep. Taylor reached out to DHS and Governor Walker about this problem. Attached is a letter from DHS that acknowledges Wisconsin’s out of date standards are a problem, but states no action has been taken.