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Lead-Safe Wisconsin

Child on Swing Lead exposure in young children can cause reduced IQ and attention span, learning disabilities, developmental delays, and a range of other health and behavioral effects. Most exposures occur in homes or daycares built before 1978 from chipping and peeling lead-based paint and the lead-tainted dust it creates or where lead hazards have been created through renovation done without using lead-safe work practices.

Prevention of lead poisoning can be accomplished by eliminating lead-based paint hazards before children are exposed. Wisconsin's goal is to eliminate this disease by making Wisconsin's housing lead-safe, and by improving the detection and treatment of lead poisoning in children.

"Lead Free Kids for a Healthy Future" logo"Ninos Liibres de plomo para un futuro saludable"

State, Nation and World Observe Lead Poisoning Prevention Week
Governor Scott Walker proclaims October 19 – 25, 2014 to be Wisconsin Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.

From the proclamation: "... childhood lead poisoning has affected more than 17,000 Wisconsin children under age six in the last three years putting these children at risk for lifelong effects that include brain damage, emotional impairment, failure in school and increased risk of criminal activity." "Wisconsin partners work together to prevent childhood lead poisoning by educating families and the community about lead poisoning, testing pre-school-aged children and eliminating lead hazards in housing."

Lead Poisoning Prevention Week provides an opportunity to educate the public on how to prevent this damaging disease. The theme for the week is “Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future” and the message to parents is: Get Your Home Tested. Get Your Kids Tested. Get the Facts! A Toolkit with ideas and resources, such as a sample local press release, and a Blood Lead Testing (P-00554; PDF, 627 KB) Data Report (P-00665; PDF, 373 KB) are now available. Resources can also be found at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency| En Espańol and the World Health Organization. Resources for community outreach range from print articles to social media messaging for national and international observance.


State of Wisconsin map

Funds to Make Older Homes Safe and Healthy

The Wisconsin Department of Administration, Division of Housing has a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Housing Program that delivers funding for making homes safe and healthy, coordinated by regional centers across the state. Many community development programs have used U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) CDBG or HOME funds to fix lead hazards in older homes. Agencies provide support via grants and/or loans to home owners in small and large communities and in rural housing. The CDBG Housing and HOME program funds are distributed to all Wisconsin counties except Dane, Milwaukee and Waukesha, which receive their own CDBG funds from HUD (shown in red). The state is divided into seven regions with a principal county contact in each region (see map) to administer the program. Home buyers and homeowners seeking funds for rehabilitation and small public facility projects should contact the appropriate region for assistance. Each county lists income limits by size of household to be eligible for the program.

In September 2014, HUD awarded Lead Hazard Demonstration Reduction Program funding in the amount of $3.9 million each to the City of Milwaukee Health Department and the Kenosha County Division of Health. For more information about either program, contact Lisa Lien at 414-286-2388 ( or Greg Vogel at 262-605-6769 (

Intervention at Lower Blood Lead Levels in Young Children Outreach Tools for New Lowered Action Level School Performance and Behavior Affected by Earlier Lead Exposure

Contractor Certification and Licensing Information

How-To Videos: Using Lead-Safe Work Practices

Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Information

Intervention at lower blood lead levels in young children

Previously, a child's blood lead level (BLL) of 10 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) was considered in need of intervention. In May 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concurred with its advisory committee's recommendation to lower that level to 5 mcg/dL (PDF, 281 KB). The recommendation was made due to the overwhelming evidence that lead exposure at levels below 10mcg/dL cause damage to the cognitive, cardiovascular, endocrine, and immune systems.

The advisory committee also recommended that CDC change its guidelines so that interventions previously identified for a BLL of 10mcg/dL or greater go into effect at the new intervention level of 5 mcg/dL. CDC recommends the following interventions for a child with a BLL of 5mcg/dL or greater:

  • Confirm a capillary blood lead test with a venous draw within 1 to 3 months.

  • Have child tested on the appropriate follow-up testing schedule.

  • Get a complete history and physical exam on the child.

  • Order the appropriate laboratory tests on the child such as tests for low iron or anemia.

  • Monitor the child's growth and development, especially as the child ages and enters school.

  • Provide education to the family on the sources of lead and how to reduce any lead hazards found.

  • From 2011 to 2013, this change increased the number of Wisconsin children considered at risk for cognitive deficits and other lifelong health problems by a factor of  five. The new value means that more children will be identified as having lead exposure earlier, so that parents, doctors, public health officials, and communities can take action earlier. The advisory committee also said, as CDC has long said, that the best way to protect children is to prevent exposure in the first place. More information can be found in the advisory committee's report to CDC. (Exit DHS; PDF, 922 KB)

    Outreach tools for new lowered action level

    The National Center for Healthy Homes developed, for parents, a fact sheet and checklist, Your Child's Blood Lead Test Results (Exit DHS; PDF, 861 KB). The fact sheet explains what a child's blood lead level means. The checklist lays out a plan for parents to follow up with their child's health care provider and explore their child's environment for possible sources of lead exposure. CDC developed a tool, Blood Lead Levels in Children (Exit DHS; PDF, 292 KB), that provides guidance to health care providers for talking with parents about their child's blood lead level.

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    School performance and behavior affected by earlier lead exposure

    Studies Link Lead Exposure to Behavioral Problems

    A recent study published in the Journal of American Medical Association: Pediatrics (Exit DHS) showed that blood lead concentrations measured in more than 1,300 preschool children in China were associated with increased risk of behavioral and emotional problems, such as being anxious, depressed, or aggressive.

    Another study on lead exposure and antisocial and risky behavior (Exit DHS) was published in August by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The author found higher exposure to lead in childhood is linked to major behavioral problems in later childhood and young adulthood, such as attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder, and teen pregnancy, as well as aggressive and criminal behavior.

    Wisconsin Studies Show Lead Related to Poor Academic Performance and  Suspension Activity

    A study published by the UW-Madison researchers on Milwaukee children (Exit DHS) showed that students who had moderate exposure to lead before age six were at a considerable educational disadvantage compared to their unexposed peers seven to eight years later. Lead-exposed students in the fourth grade scored below fourth-grade ability, an outcome with serious negative consequences for both the student and the school. 

    A second study of Milwaukee students (Exit DHS) shows that children with moderate lead exposure before the age of three were nearly three times more likely to be suspended in fourth grade compared to their peers who had little or no exposure to lead. This study showed that 23 percent of the education "achievement gap" between African American and white children was explained by early childhood lead exposure.
    Reading Readiness Affected by Lead Poisoning
    Children attending a public kindergarten in Rhode Island were enrolled in a study of reading readiness at kindergarten entry (PDF, 943 KB). Reading readiness is an early measure of a child's capacity to integrate cognitive ability and skills learned from educational and enrichment experiences. Kindergarten is a critical time for identifying children with poor reading readiness and children with low lead exposure (5 to 9 mcg/dL) and high lead exposure (>= 10mcg/dL). Children with lead exposure of 5mcg/dL or greater showed a decrease in readiness scores compared to children with lead exposure levels below 5mcg/dL. The lead-exposed children scored 4.5 to 10 points lower.
    Poor school performance found due to lead poisoning across U.S.
    The National Center for Healthy Homes released a report on childhood lead exposure and educational outcomes. This issue brief (Exit DHS) highlights recent research on the dangers posed by low-level lead exposure and the resulting financial and social costs. Lead exposure occurs more frequently in low-income children and children of color and is an important factor in the educational achievement gap between children of different racial and income groups. Investing in the prevention of lead exposure and improved housing quality will yield improvements in educational outcomes. An At-a-Glance summary of the report (Exit DHS) is also available.

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    Contractor Certification and Licensing Information

    Wisconsin's Lead-Safe Renovation Rule

    Under the Lead-Safe Renovation Rule, lead-safe renovator certification and company certification is required. Learn more about the rule, including downloadable fact sheets, guidance documents and a list of training providers of the Lead-Safe Renovator course.

    Apply online for your next certification

    Apply online. Complete and submit your individual or company certification application. You will need to be able to pay for your certification using a MasterCard or VISA credit or debit card.

    Contractor Corner: Your lead-safe renovation questions answered

    Contractor Corner gets you answers to your questions about renovation and remodeling in Wisconsin. Contractors, rental property owners, property managers, school administrators, hospital administrators, maintenance personnel, daycare providers, homeowners, do-it-yourselfers, and anyone else interested in additional information on the Wisconsin Lead-Safe Renovation Rule can use this resource.

    Wisconsin-Recognized Lead Paint Test Kits

    Find paint test kits recognized for use with your projects in Wisconsin and learn the requirements for using these test kits.

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    Videos show how to work lead-safe step-by-step

    These new videos provide step-by-step demonstrations of lead-safe work practices and were developed to supplement required training and certification. Contractors must be trained and certified to conduct renovation, repairs and painting in homes and child occupied facilities built before 1978. The videos are for:

    • Certified contractors who are required to use these work practices when conducting renovation activities on older homes.
    • Certified Lead-Safe Renovators to use when providing required on-the-job training to other workers.
    • Do-it-yourself homeowners who will find these videos helpful in planning and conducting lead-safe renovation activities in their own homes.

    The videos range in length from 4 to 14 minutes. A transcript and supplies list for each video are provided as additional tools. Please have your sound on or use headphones to listen to the narration. You will need a media player (such as the Windows Media Player) to view these videos.

    Exterior Work Practices (Webcast, help)

    Transcript (PDF, 48 KB)

    Supplies (PDF, 42 KB)

    house with siding being replaced

    Interior Work Practices (Webcast, help)

    Transcript (PDF, 80 KB)

    Supplies (PDF, 42 KB)

    proper plastic coverage of furnishings in interior room

    Personal Protection Equipment (Webcast, help)

    Transcript (PDF, 47 KB)

    Supplies (PDF, 42 KB)


    respirator masks

    Using a Recognized 3M Lead-Check Test Kit (Webcast, help)

    Transcript (PDF, 48 KB)

    Supplies (PDF, 42 KB)

    Wisconsin approved lead test kit

    Using a Recognized Klean Strip® D-Lead® Paint Test Kit, developed by ESCA Tech, Inc. (5 min; Exit DHS)

    Test kit

    Guidelines revised for the evaluation and control of lead-based paint hazards in housing

    U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has issued a second edition of Guidelines which replaces the 1995 edition. HUD's web page (Exit DHS) has links to materials related to the Guidelines, including overview slide presentations, tables showing how the steps in conducting lead hazard control projects are supported by specific chapters and appendices in the Guidelines, and more.

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    Last Revised: October 08, 2014