Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Press Release

Site Visits Highlight Lead Safety Efforts

Organizations throughout the state will showcase home lead abatement efforts

By - Jul 19th, 2021 03:23 pm

The Department of Health Services (DHS) will co-host visits to home lead abatement projects to raise awareness of childhood lead poisoning and what can be done to prevent it. One of the major sources of lead poisoning in children is lead-based paint, found mostly in homes built prior to 1978. The Lead-Safe Homes Program works with local partners to abate lead hazards in eligible properties. Every county in the state has homes built before 1978 with potential lead hazards.

“There is no safe blood lead level for children and lead poisonings is preventable,” said DHS Lead Policy Advisor Brian Weaver. “When landlords and homeowners work with our Lead-Safe Homes program today, they help protect the health of future generations of children.”

Lead is a neurotoxin that impacts a child’s brain and can cause adverse health effects both physical and behavioral, including impaired growth, reduced attention span, hyperactivity, and learning disabilities. Parents of young children can talk with their doctor, local health department or WIC clinic staff to learn more about the risk factors and how to prevent their child from being poisoned.

In 2019, over 3,100 children under the age of 6 met the definition of lead poisoned in Wisconsin, defined as having blood lead levels of 5 mcg/dL or more. No part of the state is safe from lead poisoning. Every county in Wisconsin has had a lead poisoned child under the age of 6. The highest rates in 2019 were in the cities of Milwaukee, Watertown, and Racine, and the counties of Rusk, Vernon and Sheboygan.

A blood-lead test, available at local health departments, WIC agencies, and health care clinics, is recommended for children who may have been exposed to lead paint. Children living in Milwaukee and Racine should have a blood lead test three times before age 3. Families living outside of Milwaukee and Racine should have their children tested if they have one or more of these risk factors:

  • Live in or visit a house built before 1950 or in a home built before 1978 with recent or ongoing renovations,
  • Have a sibling or playmate with lead poisoning
  • Is enrolled in Medicaid or WIC.
  • If a child living outside of Milwaukee and Racine is at risk, they should be tested at around 12 months and 24 months of age or between the ages of 36 and 72 months if there is no record of a previous test.

The DHS Lead Policy Advisor is visiting homes with active lead abatement projects to highlight the work of local public health departments, community partners, and contractors who work together to prevent childhood lead poisoning. These events will feature local stakeholders and elected officials. Each community event will begin with a 5 to 10-minute welcome in front of the house or apartment building enrolled in the Lead Safe Homes program.

Tours will take place throughout the state starting July 20 and will run through October:

  • Appleton – July 20, 2021 10-11:00 a.m.
  • Wausau – July 27, 2021, 10-11:00 a.m.
  • La Crosse – August 3, 2021, 10-11:00 a.m.
  • Janesville – week of October 25
  • Milwaukee – week of October 25

More information about the Lead Safe Homes program can be found on the DHS website.

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