Wisconsin has consistently ranked among the top ten states for the number of children found to be lead poisoned.   Wisconsin has a lot of houses built prior to 1978.  The sale of lead-based paint for household use was banned in the United States in 1978.

Pregnant women and children under 6 years of age are more at risk for lead poisoning.  Lead crosses the placental barrier in pregnancy and exposes the developing fetus.  Young children are more at risk because they engage in hand-to-mouth behavior to explore their world.   Young children absorb more of the lead that enters their system than adults, (they absorb it 6 times faster).  Children under the age of 6 have rapid brain development.

Lead-based paint is more of a hazard if it is cracked or chipped, and it is in a window that is opened and closed.  The lead dust is created by opening and closing windows with lead paint on them or renovating a home built before 1978.  The dust enters the child’s body by;

  • Breathing in the lead dust
  • Eating it as dust when hands or other objects covered with lead dust are put in the mouth, or
  • Eating paint chips or soil that contains lead.

For a list of other sources of lead click on this link:


Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities (speech impairment is the most common developmental delay).  It can also cause hearing and behavioral problems, and can harm the child’s brain, kidneys, and other organs.


What Can You Do to Prevent Lead Poisoning in Your Child?

  • Have your child’s lead tested at WIC (Women Infant and Children), or at your child’s physician’s office at age one and age two.  If your child is between the ages of three and six and has not had a lead test done before then they should have one done.
  • Wash your child’s hands before meals, after playing outside and before going to bed.
  • Make sure your child eats a well-balanced diet low in fat and high in calcium and iron (this reduces absorption of lead into the body).
  • Use cold tap water for drinking or cooking.  Let the cold water run for 15-30 seconds before drinking it or filling your pan for cooking.  Lead is more likely to leach into warm water.
  • Check for lead before renting, purchasing, or remodeling your home.
  • Damp mop floor, damp-wipe surfaces, wash toys frequently and use a hepa vacuum cleaner


Wisconsin’s new Lead-Safe Renovation Rule, DHS 163

The law went into effect April 22, 2010.  The law requires that contractors performing renovations, repair & painting projects that disturb more than six square feet of paint in a dwelling built prior to 1978 must be certified and trained to follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.  For a list of approved contractors see: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/lead/company-list.htm

For more information contact your local health department or go on the DHS website and click on lead information:  https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/lead/index.htm

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Oneida County Health Department
100 West Keenan Street
Rhinelander, WI 54501
Hours: 8:00am - 4:30pm Mon-Fri

Telephone (715) 369-6111
Fax (715) 369-6112


To report a public health emergency or to report a notifiable disease after hours, please contact dispatch at 715-361-5100.

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