Lead Poisoning in Wisconsin for Parents/Adults
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Lead Poisoning in Wisconsin for Parents/Adults What do I need to know to keep my child safe? Presented by Wisconsin School Nurses Wisconsin Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program Implementation and Oversight Committee (IOC) Education Workgroup Division of Public Health

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Lead Poisoning in Wisconsin for Parents/Adults What do I need to know to keep my child safe?

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Lead Poisoning in Wisconsin for Parents/Adults

What do I need to know to keep my child safe?

Presented by

Wisconsin School Nurses

Wisconsin Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

Implementation and Oversight Committee (IOC) Education Workgroup

Division of Public Health

Department of Health Services



Lead Poisoning in Wisconsin

Wisconsin specific data

Cause and effects of childhood, youth & adult lead poisoning

Sources of lead exposure for children, youth and adults

What should you do if you are lead poisoned

How to prevent lead poisoning

Resources for information




Lead poisoning is the most serious environmental health threat facing young children in the U.S.

Lead poisoning interferes with the normal development of a child’s brain causing learning difficulties and a greater likelihood of behavior problems.


Lead poisoning can be prevented by:

Controlling lead hazards

Decreasing lead exposure

Wisconsin-Specific Data


Lead poisoning in Wisconsin is a statewide problem.

Each red dot represents an address associated with a lead-poisoned child since 1996.

More than 46,000 children.


Wisconsin vs. U.S.

The rate of lead poisoning in Wisconsin in 2006 was more than double the national average:

2.5% of Wisconsin children that were tested were found to be poisoned

Versus 1.2% of all other children in the U.S.


2nd in Midwest States



Effects of Lead on Children, Youth and Adults

A child is at risk of lead exposure if the child is under the age of 6 and…

lives in home or regularly visits a daycare built before 1950

lives in home or regularly visits a daycare built before 1978 with recent renovation/remodeling

has a sibling who is lead-poisoned

is eligible for Medicaid or WIC services

How Lead Affects Children


Why are young children at greater risk?

Normal hand-to-mouth behavior

Rapidly developing nervous

system - vulnerable to the

effects of lead

Higher rate of absorption

How Lead Affects Children


How does lead get into the body?

Ingested - mouth (most common

source of exposure for children)

Inhaled - nose (occupational exposure)

Lead dust is not absorbed through the skin.

How Lead Affects Children


The toxic effects of lead on the brain disrupt normal brain development and can affect school performance:

Lower IQ

Memory problems

Learning disabilities

Speech and Language delays

Hearing loss

Low self esteem

How Lead Affects Children


The behavioral effects of lead poisoning can result in:

Aggression and hostility

Hyperactivity and distractibility

Classroom disruptions

How Lead Affects Children


A young person or adult is at risk of lead exposure if they…

Work in an occupation that uses lead

Renovate a home that was built before 1978

Have a hobby that uses lead, such as:

Reloading bullets or target shooting

Casting fishing weights

Stained glass or ceramics

How Lead Affects Youth and Adults


Symptoms that can be related to lead include:



Sleep disturbances

Memory problems

Muscle/joint aches and pains



Nausea, loss of appetite, weight loss

Infertility problems, miscarriages

How Lead Affects Youth and Adults


The behavioral effects of teenagers exposed to lead as a child can result in:

Increased high school dropout rate

Juvenile delinquency

Teenage pregnancy

5x more likely to smoke tobacco

Committing the most violent crimes as youth and adults.

How Lead Affects Youth


A recent study showed that youth who have been lead poisoned may feel:



How Lead Affects Youth


Long term effects related to childhood lead exposure as well as adult exposure can include such things as:

High blood pressure, heart attack, stroke

Premature death because of the above

Neurological problems

Kidney disease

Mood disorders such as hostility or depression

Memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease

How Lead Affects Adults


“How do I know if anyone in my family is lead poisoned?”


Blood Lead Testing

  • The only way to know if a child or an adult is lead poisoned is to have a blood lead test.

  • Capillary blood draw

  • Venous blood draw (A venous blood draw is recommended for adults)

Blood Lead Testing

  • Wisconsin follows federal Medicaid requirements that all Medicaid-eligible children should be tested at:

  • Age 1;

  • Again at age 2; and

  • Between ages of 3-5 years if they were not tested previously.

Blood Lead Testing

  • Wisconsin also follows CDC recommendations to test all children under age 6 who:

  • live in a home built before 1950 or a home built before 1978 that is being renovated.

  • spend time in an older home (i.e. daycare, grandparents or other relatives).

  • have a sibling who was lead poisoned.

Nutrition is Important!

  • Role of Nutrition-Vitamins and Minerals

  • Lead replaces calcium

  • Adequate iron decreases lead absorption

  • Vitamin C enhances iron absorption

  • Zinc, Thiamin and Vitamin E reduce toxic effects of lead.

Nutrition is Important!

  • Children should have full stomachs and eat at regular intervals—every 3-4 hours—-so they absorb less lead (more lead is absorbed with an empty stomach).

  • All ages.. Eat a balanced diet & not high fat diet (more lead is absorbed with high fat diet).

  • Run tap water 2-3 minutes before drinking or mixing formula; use only cold water for cooking and formula preparation

“What happens if someone in my family is lead poisoned?”

  • With all ages the goal is todecrease the blood lead level as rapidly as possible.

  • With young children, because their brain is rapidly developing, it is especially important to:

    • Prevent prolonged exposure of the central nervous system to lead

    • Prevent exposure of other children by reducing or controlling lead hazards

“What happens if someone in my family is lead poisoned?”

Your medical doctor will give you guidance and tell you how often you need to have the blood lead level checked.

Your local health department may contact you if your child is under age 6. They may request to do a home visit to help you find the source of the lead exposure and complete a developmental assessment of your child.

Adults may receive information from the state Adult Blood Lead Program (ABLES) when their blood lead level exceeds the guidelines set by OSHA.

Preventing Lead Poisoning

In Wisconsin, for a child who is chronically exposed to lead, it can take an average of 2 years for the blood lead level to drop from a level of 20mcg/dL or more to below 10mcg/dL.

The life-long impact of lead toxicity on a child’s development makes PREVENTION urgent.


Prevention means Eliminating Risk Factors in the Home

  • Are there risk factors for lead exposure in the child’s home?

  • Painted or varnished surfaces are deteriorated

  • Home is near heavy traffic or industrial areas

  • Vinyl vertical or mini blinds test positive

What Chipping and Peeling Paint Looks Like

Obvious Hazardsalligatoring/checking paint



Exterior Hazards


Exterior porches: toprails, decks and other horizontal surfaces. The annual spring project.

Preventing Lead Poisoning in Children

Treatment of the environment is the primary solution.



Materials available from WCLPPP


Materials available from WCLPPP



  • Lead poisoning occurs in every county in WI

  • Lead poisoning effects all ages: affects brain development in children; can cause future health problems for all ages.

  • Sources of lead for various ages differ

  • A blood lead test is the only way to know if a child, youth or adult is lead poisoned

  • Prevent lead poisoning by being aware of hazards and taking steps to eliminate them correctly

  • Contact your local health department or WCLPPP for information


1. Your Local Health Department

2. WCLPPP website: dhs.wi.gov/lead

3. WCLPPP and ABLES Phone Number:



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