Wisconsin Department of Health Services establishes Lead-Safe Homes Program

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – State health officials are aiming to eliminate lead poisoning issues that have impacted thousands of children in Wisconsin.

First News at Nine’s Alex Loroff shares the details of the new lead-safe homes program.

A new program from the state health department is aiming to eliminate lead poisoning issues that are impacting children across Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin DHS says every county in Wisconsin has had at least one child under the age of six suffer from lead poisoning, and thousands met the definition of lead-poisoned two years ago.

“In 2019 we had over 3,100 lead-poisoned children in the state, and the primary source of lead poisoning is through lead-based paint in older homes,” DHS Lead Policy Advisor Brian Weaver said.

The state has now set specific money aside to address the problem by creating the Lead-Safe Homes Program.

Weaver says the goal is to assist low-income families, particularly those with children or pregnant women, who live in homes that were built with lead-based paint.

“Wisconsin has a high percentage of older housing stock, so we look for homes older than 1978,” Weaver said. “It’s estimated there are over 350,000 homes in Wisconsin with potential lead-based paint hazards.”

Eddie and Nikole Hale of La Crosse bought one of those homes 21 years ago and quickly realized that it was potentially dangerous for their young children.

“We loved it [the house], everything about it, it’s old and it’s vintage, and then I started looking around and seeing chipping paint and I said oh my goodness, that’s probably lead paint,” Eddie Hale said.

Much like the Hale’s home, Weaver says the goal is to eliminate all lead hazards in properties around Wisconsin, but he understands that it won’t happen overnight.

“Annually, if we can get one hundred or so homes a year that’s what we’re looking to do,” Weaver said. “That’s going to take a long time through the Lead-Safe Homes Program, so that’s not the only way to address this issue, but with the Lead-Safe Homes Program we are trying to get to as many properties as possible.”

Weaver is encouraging homeowners, landlords, and tenants who live in properties built before 1978 to enroll in the lead-safe homes program through the Wisconsin DHS website.

In La Crosse, Alex Loroff, First News at Nine.

The Health Department says lead can impact a child’s brain, and adverse health effects include impaired growth, reduced attention span, and learning disabilities.

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