MILWAUKEE -- Health experts say there is no amount of lead which is considered safe in the human blood stream, but Milwaukee County leaders say testing continues to indicate the presence of lead in the blood streams of Milwaukee children.
Along with the physical efforts to eliminate lead from household water, there is a new educational effort designed to limit lead exposure.
"We know that taking these steps and educating parents can make a significant stride in pushing the decline to childhood lead poisoning rates downward," said Bevan Baker, City of Milwaukee health commissioner.
Friday, city leaders gathered at the Moody Park Pavilion and announced the "Lead-Safe Milwaukee" campaign to continue comprehensive efforts aimed at reducing childhood lead exposure.
In a news release, Mayor Barrett said the following:
"The City of Milwaukee has aggressively worked to reduce children’s exposure to lead hazards, and can report that we have seen significant reductions. But too many children are still exposed to lead in our community. Through a broad public awareness campaign focused on the proven steps that protect children, we as a community can drive down these rates even further."
Through its Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program and efforts of community partners, the City of Milwaukee Health Department reports the prevalence of blood lead levels at 10 micrograms/deciliter (ug/dL) has decreased by 90 percent since 1997, while testing has increased by 66 percent during that same time period. At a lower level of exposure, 5 ug/dL, blood lead prevalence among children has declined by nearly 70 percent since 2003.
"While the water and lead water issue has certainly come to the forefront lately, we cannot escape the fact that a higher prevalence and what science shows is a higher prevalence of lead is still coming to children through lead paint and lead dust," said Alderman Jim Bohl.
Despite what city leaders call "dramatic declines," as of 2015, three percent of Milwaukee children tested were reported to have blood lead levels at 10 ug/dL and 11.6 percent of Milwaukee children tested were reported to have blood lead tests at 5 ug/dL.
"There's no safe level of lead exposure for children," said Baker.
The campaign suggests three steps to limit lead exposure.
"Safely clean up the lead paint dust; run that water until it's very, very cold -- and today can be a reminder of how cold it can get in Wisconsin. Get your children tested. Three, before the age of three," Baker said.
For Milwaukee residents, Mayor Tom Barrett says if you live in a house which was built before 1978, there is likely lead in the paint. If you live in a house built before 1951, there is likely lead in the laterals serving your home.
Lead poisoning prevention
- Drinking water safety tips
- Milwaukee’s drinking water filter program
- Lead-safe Wisconsin website
- Lead Poisoning Prevention