Why is Lead Poisoning Still an Important Issue?

Friday, October 18, 2013 - 4:48am

Renters can Play Important Role in Prevention

Some people might think that lead poisoning is a problem that we've already solved. Unfortunately, it is still an ongoing health challenge for many communities. In response to this challenge Public Health-Madison and Dane County (PHMDC) is conducting an online survey of families who rent their housing to evaluate if they have been provided with information about lead-based paint hazards in compliance with a federal law. Federal law requires that individuals renting or purchasing a home built before 1978 must be informed about the presence of lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards in the home or rental unit, and be provided any related records or reports, and prevention materials from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Information gathered from this survey is anonymous and will allow PHMDC to determine if further action is necessary to ensure that this important information about childhood lead poisoning and potential poisoning hazards is being provided to families. If you reside in a rental unit built before 1978, we invite you to click on the link above and following and take the survey.

Lead poisoning is a very serious condition that can result in life-long health consequences in children. Prolonged exposure to lead, even at very low levels, can damage the brain, kidneys, and nervous system and is particularly dangerous to children and pregnant women. Lead poisoning in children can result in an increased risk of learning disabilities, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, and behavioral problems. In most cases, these problems show up years after the exposure has occurred.
The only good news about this health threat is that it is both preventable and avoidable. One of the first preventative steps you can take is to identify the potential lead hazards in your home, which is particularly important if you are living in a home or apartment unit built before 1978. Young children and pregnant women have a greater risk of lead exposure due to the use of lead-based paints in these older buildings. These families can get free help to identify these hazards from PHMDC by calling our office at (608) 266-4821.

Private companies also provide this service, which may cost around $100 to $150 depending on the services provided. Information on private companies providing lead risk investigation can be found at
or by calling our office at the above number.

Children at risk of lead poisoning should also have a blood test performed by their health care provider at ages 1 and 2 years old. This is important because lead poisoning often occurs without showing obvious symptoms and frequently goes unrecognized. Parents should contact their health care provider to make an appointment for the test. This is especially important if you live in an older house or apartment or are in environments where there are known lead hazards.

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week provides us with an important reminder about the dangers of lead exposure to our children and the need to protect this vulnerable population. It also provides opportunities to identify gaps in peoples' awareness of the facts about childhood lead poisoning prevention and guide efforts to help fill these gaps.

Additional information concerning lead hazards and actions you can take to prevent exposure is provided below.

If you have any concerns about lead in your home, please contact us at (608) 266-4821 to schedule a free inspection.

For more detailed information on lead poisoning prevention see our web page at

A useful brochure with information on lead poisoning risks to children can be found at


For clear advice on how to avoid lead exposure during remodeling and painting projects in older homes, see the following brochure:

For information about National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week see


Public Health - Madison & Dane County


  • Jeff Golden(608) 243-0302