Lead Poisoning Prevention

  1. Kendall Wyss

    Environmental Health Specialist

A goal for Healthiest Wisconsin 2020 is to "increase the percentage of homes with healthy, safe environments in all communities”. One of the programs that fulfills this goal is “The Childhood Lead Prevention Program”.

Lead Poisoning Prevention

Lead investigations and inspections are provided upon referral for a lead poisoned child.  An Investigation of the residence will be conducted to ascertain the possible source of the lead exposure and directives will be given on how to alleviate the source of exposure.

What is Lead?

Lead (Pb) is a heavy metal; however, it is soft, malleable, and melts at a relatively low temperature. Lead is a neurotoxin that can accumulates in soft tissues and bones, damage the nervous system, cause brain and learning disorders and blood disorders. 

 

What is Lead Poisoning?

When lead enters the body, it can get into the blood system, soft tissue and bones. Lead levels will increase with continued exposure to the lead source. As blood lead levels increase, so do the potential health risks. However, even low blood lead levels can cause health issues.  Within Greenfield, a child who has a venous blood lead level of 5 mcg/dl or more is said to have lead poisoning, and needs immediate follow-up from their physician. However, the CDC recommends that any level of lead exposure can be harmful to a child, so preventing exposure to lead is the most important step a parent can take.

Who is at risk?

Children and pregnant women are at greatest risk; however, anyone can acquire lead poisoning. Children exposed to lead are at risk to develop learning and behavioral problems, lower IQ, and delayed physical growth. Loss of coordination and hearing and a decreased sense of touch can also occur as a result of lead poisoning. When unborn babies are exposed to lead through their mothers, they are at risk of being born prematurely. Lead poisoning in adults can cause memory problems, irritability, muscle and joint pain, infertility issues, high blood pressure and digestive problems. These effects of lead exposure cannot be undone. High lead levels in the human body can lead to death with children being more susceptible to death because of lead exposure.


Where is lead found?

Lead can be found on the interior and exterior of homes built before 1978.  The most common source is old lead paint. Lead was added to paint to speed up drying, increase durability of the paint and to resist moisture that causes corrosion of the substrate. Other sources of lead include:  dust or fumes from hobbies that use lead (such as making stained glass or pottery, refinishing furniture, making fishing lures or weights or target practice), antique pewter, old batteries, old painted furniture, drapery or window weights, foreign candies, imported plastic mini-blinds, work clothes and shoes from parents or relatives who work in an occupation or have a hobby that exposes them to lead dust.  Exposure to lead could also happen from renovation nearby where the dust is not properly contained. 


Who should be tested?

In Milwaukee and Racine counties, each child should have a blood test three times before the age of three years; preferably at 12 months, 18 months, and 24 months.  The screening procedure involves a simple finger poke to obtain a sample of blood. Children between the ages of 36-60 months who are uninsured or receiving Medicaid or WIC should continue with annual blood lead tests through 60 months of age.  Ask your health care provider or your local WIC representative for children younger than 6yrs. of age about screening times and dates. Contact the Greenfield Health Department at 414-329-5275 or visit the websites for Lead-Safe Wisconsinthe CDC, and the EPA for more information on lead exposure and lead abatement.