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MADISON — National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is observed now through Oct. 29. During this week, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) encourages all Wisconsinites to take steps to prevent and detect childhood lead exposure. Success in prevention and detection can be made by getting the facts, helping children get tested for lead exposure, and checking homes for lead hazards.

“During National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, we urge awareness and action to prevent the life-long impact of lead exposure,” said Paula Tran, State Health Officer. “In Wisconsin, we have made continued progress in preventing childhood lead poisoning. However, lead hazards remain, and pose risks to children, in communities all across our state. Working together, we can reduce childhood lead exposure, eliminate lead hazards, and build a healthier future for all Wisconsin children.”

Lead exposure, poisoning impacts Wisconsinites

Childhood lead poisoning remains a serious public health crisis. It is primarily caused by swallowing or breathing in dust from deteriorating lead-based paint. Lead poisoning can cause learning and behavior problems, slowed growth and development, and hearing and speech problems.

Over the past two decades, more than 230,000 Wisconsin children under the age of six have been poisoned by lead. Every county in Wisconsin has reported a child with lead poisoning over this time period. In Wisconsin, there are an estimated 350,000 homes with lead-based paint hazards. Homes built before 1978 are especially likely to contain lead paint.

Other common sources of lead can be contaminated drinking water from corroded lead service lines or household plumbing; imported candy, spices, makeup, or toys; and adults bringing lead into the home due to exposure from jobs and other hobbies.

“No amount of lead exposure is safe. While lead exposure can impact anyone, children under the age of six are especially vulnerable to lead exposure,” said Brian Weaver, DHS Lead Policy Advisor. “The most important way to prevent childhood lead poisoning is to protect children from exposure to lead hazards, and it’s important to detect exposure early by getting a blood lead test.”

Take Action

Parents &
Guardians

  • Getting the facts:
    • Learn about lead hazards that may exist in your home or your community and how to prevent lead exposure by exploring DHS’s online resources.
  • Getting children tested:
    • Talk with your child’s healthcare provider about the risk of lead exposure, and determine if a blood lead test is needed. Every child living in the cities of Milwaukee or Racine should be tested for lead exposure three times before the age of three. All other families should have a child under three tested if they live in or regularly visit a house built before 1978; have a sibling or playmate with lead poisoning; or are enrolled in Medicaid or the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program.
  • Checking your home for lead hazards:

Healthcare
Providers

  • Getting the facts:
    • Know how lead exposure can harm children, who are most at risk, and how to manage children with lead poisoning. Visit DHS’s health care guidance page.
  • Getting children tested:
    • Learn the Medicaid testing requirements and Wisconsin blood lead screening recommendations. Make sure all children in these categories receive age-appropriate blood lead tests or are called back if they have been missed.
  • Check your patient’s history:
    • Ensure your patients have received age-appropriate blood lead tests

Homeowners & Landlords

  • Getting the facts:
    •  Lead exposure is a serious health concern for people living on your property. If the property you own was built before 1978, it is likely to have lead-based paint hazards.
  • Getting your property tested:
  • Making your property lead-safe: 
    • If you are renovating your property, make sure you are practicing safe renovation techniques. Hire a certified lead contractor to remove or remediate any lead hazards in your home. Consider if you are eligible for DHS’s Lead-Safe Homes Program.

For more information on how to protect your family from lead exposure and keep your home lead safe, visit the Lead-Safe Wisconsin webpage.


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