Prevention and Screening Key to Protecting Children

October 18, 2006

MADISON, WI — Childhood lead poisoning continues to be a leading environmental health threat to children living in Madison and Dane County, city and county officials say. Encouraged by the low number of lead poisoned children identified, officials remain concerned about the hazards that remain and the low number of children who receive blood lead testing services.

Some key points to consider when thinking about this problem include:

Ô Recent research has found that blood lead levels as low as five micrograms per deciliter are associated with harmful effects on a child’s ability to learn and develop, and extremely high levels can cause death;
Ô In the last ten years over 644 children in the City of Madison and Dane County have suffered from lead poisoning with blood lead levels over 10 micrograms per deciliter;
Ô In 2005, 39% of 1 year olds and 22% of 2 year olds on Medicaid have been screened;
Ô 75% of Madison homes and 57% of Dane County Homes were built before 1978 and may contain lead hazards.

Because lead hazards persist in our homes and communities and it is known children are harmed by very small amounts of lead, Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk will dedicate October 22 – 28 as Madison and Dane County’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.

“Lead poisoning is a threat to our children we can stop if we work together,” Falk said. “Our public health officials are eager to work with parents, doctors, landlords to reduce this hazard.”

“We’ve made great progress in recent years reducing lead poisoning, but the job isn’t done yet,” said Cieslewicz. “Parents, physicians and landlords can all play a role in making sure that no child in our community suffers from this serious condition.”

Here are actions Madison and Dane County parents, physicians, property owners, and contractors may take to prevent children from becoming lead poisoned.

Parents:
Ô Get children at risk of lead poisoning screened at ages 1 and 2 years old; and
Ô Become aware of sources of lead in your home; and
Ô Ensure that painting and remodeling in your home are done lead-safe.

Physicians:
Ô Screen children at risk of lead poisoning at ages 1 and 2; and
Ô Contact Public Health for Madison and Dane County for support and information.

Rental property owners, painting and building contractors:
Ô Learn how to identify lead sources and hazards; and
Ô Apply lead safe work methods when painting or remodeling older buildings.

Children at risk of lead poisoning include those:
Ô living in or visiting homes built before 1950 (lots of lead paint was used prior to this);
Ô living in or visiting homes built before 1978 that are being renovated (lead paint was banned in homes in 1978; renovation disturbs lead and makes it more available);
Ô playing with a sibling or a friend who has lead poisoning (they likely play in the same places); and,
Ô eligible for Medicaid, WIC, or other public assistance (children in low income families are often at greater risk of lead poisoning).

Contact:
  • John Hausbeck, 608-294-5315