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‘I am concerned:’ Congresswoman Moore sends letters to CDC, HUD amid lead testing controversy

Gwen Moore

MILWAUKEE — Congresswoman Gwen Moore has sent letters to the CDC and US Department of Housing and Urban Development — seeking information about how the “Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program” is being managed. According to a news release from Congresswoman Moore’s office, the letters reference reports that the Milwaukee Health Department failed to notify families of children with elevated levels of lead in their blood.

“As you know, the 2014 crisis in Flint, Michigan brought national attention to the issue of lead in drinking water, as well as the devastating health consequences on young children. A couple years later, the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families released their analysis of the rate of lead poisoning among children in Wisconsin. This analysis showed that the rate of lead poisoning among children in Wisconsin is nearly equal to Flint, Michigan. In Wisconsin, 4.6 percent of children under the age of six who were tested had lead poisoning; Flint, Michigan’s rate was 4.9 percent. The analysis further found that a disproportionate number of African-American children had lead poisoning,” Moore said in the release. “I am concerned about my constituents, especially the children who may not have received appropriate care. I urge you to investigate the administration of this program and ensure it is in compliance with the guidelines for lead poisoning as established by the federal Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.”

Below is the text of the letters, as issued by Moore’s office:

January 23, 2018

Mr. Mitchell Wolfe
Acting Director
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
395 E St SW Ste 9100
Washington, DC 20472-3298

Dear Mr. Wolfe,

I am writing this letter to seek information in regard to the federally funded Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, administered by the City of Milwaukee.

As you know, the 2014 crisis in Flint, Michigan brought national attention to the issue of lead in drinking water, as well as the devastating health consequences on young children. A couple years later, the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families released their analysis of the rate of lead poisoning among children in Wisconsin. This analysis showed that the rate of lead poisoning among children in Wisconsin is nearly equal to Flint, Michigan. In Wisconsin, 4.6% of children under the age of 6 who were tested had lead poisoning; Flint, Michigan’s rate was 4.9%. The analysis further found that a disproportionate number of African-American children had lead poisoning.

I mention the facts above in order to illustrate the seriousness of lead poisoning in the State of Wisconsin and, in particular, within the 4th Congressional District and the City of Milwaukee, which has the largest concentration of lead service lines in the state. The City of Milwaukee Health Department tests children for lead exposure through the earlier mentioned Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. Recently, it was reported that the City of Milwaukee Health Department failed to provide notification to thousands of families whose children tested positive for elevated blood lead levels (see attached article). 

As a result of the lack of notification, the City of Milwaukee instituted a number of personnel changes, citing mismanagement in the City of Milwaukee Health Department. I am concerned about my constituents, especially the children who may not have received appropriate care. I urge you to investigate the administration of this program and ensure it is in compliance with the guidelines for lead poisoning as established by the federal Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

The City of Milwaukee’s CDC Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program has been considered a model program for the nation in the past. The program is vital to the well-being of Milwaukee’s children and must continue to operate at a high standard to mitigate exposure to lead. I appreciate your timely consideration of this request. Please feel free to contact my office if you have questions regarding this letter.

Sincerely,
Gwen Moore
Member of Congress