Lead Poisoning Prevention

Our lead poisoning prevention work involves collaboration with local partners to provide education, resources and care to children with lead exposure.

Clinical and Community Solutions to Lead-Free Children

Environmental lead disproportionately impacts vulnerable groups, including children living in low-income areas as well as ethnic and racial minorities. In Milwaukee, the highest lead levels are contained in old housing stock.

Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin (AHW) is funding a collaborative lead prevention project with the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), Children’s Wisconsin, Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin (the Alliance), and Social Development Commission (SDC). The project’s goal is to increase the connectedness between the clinical enterprise, the City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD), community response, and parental engagement following a positive lead test. Increased connectedness and communication will help mitigate ongoing lead exposures and decrease lead poisoning. We aim to evaluate how lead testing is accomplished and the mechanisms that clinics use to communicate with the community. The project anticipates impacting sustainable changes in testing practices, care coordination between primary care and the MHD, a deeper understanding of parental concerns, and reformed approaches to improving housing.

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:

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.

Contact Our Staff

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

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