October 17, 2013
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683

Testing and Education Are Key to Preventing Lead Poisoning Among Wisconsin Children

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week Is October 20-26

MADISON-Hundreds of thousands of children nationwide - including an estimated 7,500 in Wisconsin in 2011 - have elevated blood lead levels that may damage their health and affect their success in school, making it critical to raise awareness and participate in this year's National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, state health officials announced today.

"Lead poisoning affects all of us, because it decreases the potential of affected children, reducing their ability to learn and causing behavioral problems and life-long health problems," said Dr. Henry Anderson, State Health Officer. "We share the national campaign's goal of 'Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future.'"

"Most children who are lead poisoned are exposed to lead-contaminated dust from deteriorating paint in older homes or day care facilities built before 1978, which is why this year's campaign messages are: get your home tested, get your kids tested, get the facts," Anderson said.

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lowered the blood lead level at which follow-up action is recommended for children from10 mcg/dL to 5 mcg/dL or more. According to 2011 data, this change would increase the number of Wisconsin children considered at risk from 876 to more than 7,500.

To lower a child's exposure to lead, action steps include follow-up with health care providers and seeking help from other professionals to find and remove the lead sources. Exposure at higher levels may require medications to help remove lead from the child's body, but brain injury caused by the lead cannot be reversed.

A recent study by University of Wisconsin - Madison researchers showed that children with even moderate lead exposure before age 3 were three times more likely to be suspended from school in fourth grade compared with peers with little or no exposure to lead. An earlier study by the same researchers showed such exposure resulted in lower standardized test scores for these children.

For information on local lead poisoning prevention efforts in your community, contact your local health department. View contact information here.

To learn about steps to take to remove lead from your home, visit the Lead-Safe Wisconsin website, or call the National Lead Information Hotline at 800-424-LEAD (5323).