Lead Poisoning Prevention

A goal for Healthiest Wisconsin 2010 is to "Protect and Promote the Health of All”. (A Partnership Plan to improve the health of the public.)  One of the programs that fulfil 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.

What is Lead?

Lead (Pb) is a heavy metal however it is soft, malleable, and lead melts at a relatively low temperature.   Lead was added to paint to speed up drying, increase durability of the paint and to resist moisture that causes corrosion of the substrate. 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.  High lead levels in the human body can lead to death. Children exposed to lead are at risk to develop learning and behavior problems, lower IQ and delayed physical growth.  When unborn babies are exposed to lead through their mothers, they are at risk of being born too small or too early. A child who has a venous blood lead level of 10mcg/dl or more is said to be lead poisoned, and needs follow-up from their physician.

Who is at risk?

Children and pregnant women are at greatest risk; however, anyone can acquire lead poisoning. Lead poisoning in adults can cause memory problems, irritability, muscle and joint pain, infertility issues, high blood pressure and digestive problems.

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.  Other sources 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, 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 happen from renovation nearby that is not properly contained. 

Who should be tested?

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.  For further information about lead and lead poisoning, contact the Greenfield Health Department at 414-329-5275, or visit, www.epa.gov/lead.