Lead Poisoning Prevention

Our lead poisoning prevention work involves collaboration with local partners to provide education, resources and care to children with lead exposure. Lead poisoning and asthma are both caused by environmental factors and are often prevalent in the same populations. Creating healthy environments is vital to creating healthy communities.

Visit preventlead.org, Milwaukee’s new source for free materials to empower the public in preventing lead poisoning. Join us in promoting #LEADucation!

Clinical and Community Solutions to Lead-Free Children

Environmental lead disproportionately impacts vulnerable groups, including children living in low-income areas and children of certain ethnic and racial groups. In Milwaukee, the highest lead levels are contained in old housing stock. To address this issue, Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin is funding a collaborative lead prevention project with the Medical College of Wisconsin, Children’s Wisconsin, Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin, and the Social Development Commission.

The project’s goal is to increase the connectedness between the clinical and community responses following a positive lead test. Increased connectedness and communication will help mitigate ongoing lead exposures and decrease lead poisoning in Milwaukee. The project is currently connecting with individuals and groups with concerns about environmental lead, including parents and community leaders, community-based organizations, clinicians, the local and state health department, coalitions, and the city housing department.

View project webinars to learn more about lead in Milwaukee and ongoing work of the partnership:

Community Solutions to Lead | Webinar Series Recap

Leaducation Session 1: A Focus on Water | Slides 

Frequently Asked Questions

Lead is a naturally occurring metal, but it is toxic to humans. When it enters and builds up in the body, it can cause learning disabilities, developmental delays, reduced attention span, and at high levels, it can cause serious brain damage and disability.

It is important to note that there is NO safe level of lead in the human body.

  • Children younger than 6 are at the greatest risk since their bodies are developing quickly and they are more susceptible to taking in lead (e.g., putting their hands in their mouths while playing).
  • Pregnant women are at risk since lead can pass from mother to unborn baby.
  • People who live in homes built before 1978 are at risk; lead paint was banned in 1978, so older homes are more likely to contain it.

The most common source is lead-based paint and lead dust, especially around windows. Lead can also be found in soil, drinking water, the air, and sometimes in products like cosmetics, jewelry, toys and imported spices.

A blood test can diagnose lead poisoning. The City of Milwaukee Health Department recommends that all children in Milwaukee get tested three times before the age of 3. Talk to your primary physician about getting your child tested, or contact your local health department or Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) clinic who may also be able to test your child.

  • Eliminate any lead hazards in your home. There are programs that can help you make repairs to your home to make it safer (see resources below).
  • Get your water tested for lead or use a drinking water filter (see resources below).
  • Clean floors, windowsills and dusty surfaces regularly with a wet cloth or mop.
  • Wash your child’s hands and toys often.
  • Remove shoes when entering the house.

Lead Poisoning Prevention Resources

CDC Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP)
The goal of this program is to prevent childhood lead exposure before any harm occurs. Through CLPPP, CDC supports state and local public health departments with funds for surveillance and prevention of lead exposure.

City of Milwaukee Health Department Lead Programs
The Home Environmental Health Division (HEH) of the City of Milwaukee Health Department consists of four complimentary programs that together aim to keep children and families healthy and safe: Lead Hazard Reduction, Lead Surveillance & Response, Healthy Homes, and Drinking Water Safety.

Coalition on Lead Emergency (COLE)
COLE is organizing, advocating, and educating Milwaukee residents to create a lead safe city.

Community Water Services (CWS)
CWS is a multi-disciplinary team in Milwaukee that is testing a systematic approach to attain safe drinking water from the tap.

Developmental Screening Resources
Developmental Screening helps identify children with delays (a common symptom of lead poisoning) and get them the resources they need. The Family Resources on this page can be used to learn about developmental milestones and to share information with your child’s doctor.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Lead-Safe Wisconsin
Lead-Safe Wisconsin provides information, resources and tools to prevent lead poisoning and protect kids by making sure the homes they live and play in are free from lead dust.

Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) Drinking Water Filter Program
The City of MHD offers free drinking water filter starter kits as part of a free Lead Safe Kit if you meet the eligibility criteria.

Prevent Lead Poisoning Milwaukee
Prevent Lead Poisoning Milwaukee is a citywide initiative focused on providing free resources to empower the public in preventing lead poisoning. The mission is to raise awareness and equip Milwaukee with tools to build a safer and healthier community.

Social Development Commission (SDC) Lead Safe Homes Program
SDC’s Lead Safe Homes Program protects children and families from the hazards of lead-based paint in their homes. Eligible homeowners and owners of rental properties can receive assistance with eliminating lead-based paint hazards and creating lead-safe housing units.

Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health Fact Sheet
This fact sheet is titled “Supporting Child Well-Being Through Preventing Childhood Lead Poisoning.” It provides information and action steps to take to prevent lead poisoning in our state.

Contact Our Staff

Carissa Hoium, MPH
Program Leader
Environmental Health
(414) 337-4569

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