Lead Information


Capillary Blood Lead Testing and Lead Information

Blood Lead Testing (capillary): Free for children 1 to 6 years old. Call Columbia County Division of Health --- (608) 742-9264 for an appointment.

Lead Risk Assessment: Call the Division of Health for information on sources of lead, exposure routes, home assessments, and ways to reduce your child's exposure to lead.

Lead Safe Wisconsin (Wisconsin Department of Health Services): Information on lead poisoning, including product and toy alerts containing lead.

Lead Information

Lead poisoning continues to be a very important issue for children and adults. While lead can be found many places, lead-based paint is one of the most important sources of lead for lead poisoned children. Is there lead based paint in your home? If your home or apartment was built before 1978, it is possible that it contains lead-based paint. And the older your house or apartment is, the more likely it is to contain lead-based paint.

If your house or apartment was built before 1978, you need to ask the following questions:

  1. Is there lead-based paint in my home?
    Finding lead is the first step to managing lead hazards and protecting your family. Lead-based paint could be anywhere in the home; however, the most likely spots for lead-based paint are on surfaces exposed to the weather (windows, doors, siding, porches) or to high humidity (kitchens and bathrooms). Paint samples can be tested by the Wisconsin Occupational Health Lab (800-446-0403). It is also possible to hire a certified lead inspector to inspect your home, call 742-9274 for a current list of contractors, or check Wisconsin Department of Health Services-Certified Lead Companies.
  2. Is it a hazard?
    Lead-based paint that is in good shape (i.e. not chipping, peeling, cracking, chalking, etc.) is not an immediate lead hazard.
  3. Has your child been exposed to lead?
    If you have reason to believe your child has been exposed to lead paint dust, have your doctor test your child's blood lead level (BLL), or call the Columbia County Division of Health to have your child tested.

If you do have lead hazards in your house or apartment, it is important that they are taken care of safely. Many children become lead poisoned when their home is remodeled or repainted.

If your child has an elevated blood lead level, please call the Columbia County Division of Health (742-9264) to learn more about the services available to your family to eliminate additional lead exposure and assist with information on medical follow-up.

  • Are you looking to buy or rent a house or apartment built before 1978?
    You should be aware of the new federal laws that require home sellers and landlords to disclose all information they know about lead in the house or apartment. For more information about this law call the Columbia County Division of Health.
  • Contractors/paid remodelers who will be disturbing more than 2 square feet of paint, on a house built before 1978, must give you a copy of the pamphlet "Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home", and must get a receipt for the pamphlet. Federal law requires that individuals receive certain information before renovating six square feet or more of painted surfaces in a room for interior projects or more than twenty square feet of painted surfaces for exterior projects in housing, child care facilities and schools built before 1978.
  • Homeowners and tenants: renovators must give you the pamphlet "Renovate Right" before starting work.
  • Child Care facilities, including preschools and kindergarten classrooms, and the families of children under the age of six that attend those facilities: renovators mus provide a copy of this pamphlet to child care facilities and general renovation information to families whose children attend those facilities.

Also, beginning April 2010, federal law will require contractors that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities and schools, built before 1978 to be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. Therefore beginning in April 2010, ask to see your contractor's certification.

What is the Problem w/Lead Based Paint?

Lead was used primarily during the 1920's and 1930's as a pigment and drying agent in oil based paints. Lead paint dust and chips are the primary causes of lead poisoning in young children. Pregnant women and contractors exposed to lead paint dust are also at risk. The risk of lead poisoning to the general adult population is low.

Primary Lead Hazard Reduction Measures

Primary measures are actions that result in more permanent control of lead hazards. These actions may or may not be necessary, depending on the hazard reduction achieved with the interim measures. Homeowners should not attempt large lead based paint control projects. Consider instead, hiring a certified lead hazard contractor to do the work. The following are the preferred primary reduction measures. These measures create less lead dust than other measures.

  • Replace windows, window sills, doors, porch or stair railings, banisters or other woodwork or trim with new unpainted products.
  • Remove woodwork and send it to a business that strips off old paint. Cover interior walls or ceilings with a durable material such as wallboard or paneling.
  • Cover exterior walls with vinyl or aluminum siding.
  • Cover window sash tracks with vinyl or aluminum slides.
  • Cover window wells (exterior sills) with a durable material such as metal, aluminum or fiberglass cloth.
  • Cover floors with a durable material such as wood or linoleum and stairs with rubber tread and metal edges.
  • Cover nonfriction surfaces with durable materials such as fiberglass tape or high quality enamel or acrylic paints.
PLEASE NOTE: The following methods for removing lead based paint on interior or exterior surfaces should NOT be used OnSite:
  1. open flame burning;
  2. power sanding or grinding; or
  3. sand or water blasting.

Clean Up & Disposal of Waste Material

A thorough clean up of the work area is ESSENTIAL to minimize the chance of exposure to lead dust and debris. During clean up, do not use a regular home or shop vacuum. The filters will not collect all of the lead dust and particles. A vacuum with a high efficiency particulate accumulator (HEPA) filter should be used.

  • Clean up all visible interior and exterior debris (paint, dust, putty, wood, plaster, masonry) at the end of each work day.
  • Waste materials should be well contained in double bagged 3 mil. plastic garbage bags.
  • Solid lead containing debris from residential properties may be discarded with household waste.
  • Materials such as tape, plastic sheeting, mop heads, cleaning cloths, sponges, clothes and filters should be disposed of in the same manner. Once the project is completed, all surfaces (walls, ceilings, floors, woodwork, porches, window sills) in and adjacent to the work area should be cleaned by using one of the following procedures:
  • Dish detergent or cleaner wash followed by vacuuming with a HEPA VAC, or
  • At least three washes, each followed by a clean, warm water rinse.The following steps should be followed:
    • Use detergent,
    • Dissolve detergent in hot water,
    • Use rubber gloves,
    • Pour dissolved solution into spray bottles,
    • Mist surfaces to be cleaned,
    • Wipe wet surface with paper towels or disposable rags,(use one towel or rag per surface type, for example one rag per window),
    • Follow each wash with a clean, warm water rinse (use a separate towel or rag for each rinse),
    • Dispose of paper towels or rags with normal trash.

When Should You Be Concerned?

You should be concerned about lead poisoning or exposure if:  You have a child six years of age or younger who lives at or regularly visits an older home. You are planning to get pregnant or are currently pregnant, and you live in an older home under renovation. You are a homeowner, carpenter or painter working on older homes.

The four risk factors listed below will help you determine the risk of lead poisoning for you or your family from lead based paint.

  1. Age of Your Building: Buildings constructed before 1960 are most likely to have lead based paint. Buildings constructed between 1960 and 1980 probably have lead based paint.
  2. Amount of Lead in the Paint: Painted surfaces can be tested to determine if lead is present. If tests find lead on a painted surface, that surface presents a potential health hazard. The higher the amount of lead found on a surface, the more of a potential hazard the surface presents.
  3. Type of Persons in Dwelling: Children six years of age or younger, pregnant women, and contractors are at primary risk. Children between the ages of 6 and 36 months are most at risk due to their normal hand-to-mouth activities.
  4. Type and Condition of the Painted Surface: All surfaces containing lead based paint are potential health hazards, even surfaces that have been recently painted with lead-free paint. Surfaces that pose the greatest risk are:
    • Surfaces in poor condition (peeling, chipping, flaking, or chalking).
    • Surfaces disturbed through remodeling or repainting.
    • Surfaces within reach of children, especially window sills and window wells (exterior sills), doors and door frames, baseboards, and railings.
    • Surfaces subject to friction or abrasion, such as windows, doors or floors.

Exterior Lead Based Paint

Doing some Exterior Painting or Remodeling? Then Here is What You Need to Know! Lead based paint is a serious hazard for young children.

Although homes, furniture, toys, and many other items can no longer be painted with lead based paints, many children may still be exposed to lead based paint. This paint is not an immediate hazard unless it is in poor condition that includes cracking, chipping, peeling, or chalking. In this condition, lead based paints are a serious health hazard when even very small amounts of paint chips or dust are accidentally eaten. Children exposed to lead may develop behavioral problems, such as hyperactivity, and physical problems, such as anemia and slow mental or physical development.

Acceptable Paint Removal Methods

It is recommended that lead-based paint be removed by wet scraping. An alternative method is to remove the paint with chemical strippers. However, this method presents other environmental and personal health hazards that must be considered. Inappropriate methods of lead based paint removal are power sanding, grinding, and open flame burning unless proper engineering controls are used. HEPA (high efficiency particle accumulator) vacuum attachments for power sanders qualify as appropriate engineering controls; however, these attachments are relatively expensive and difficult to use on buildings over one story. Appropriate engineering controls for power grinding and open flame burning include enclosing the work area with plastic.

Paint Chips and Dust Containment

Close all of the doors, windows, and vents to the building. Openings must also be sealed if closing them is not sufficient to prevent paint or dust from entering the building. Soil, vegetation, and other areas adjacent to the work area must be covered with a drop cloth that is attached to the base of the building, extends the length of the work area, and is deep enough to collect all of the paint chips and dust resulting from paint removal. At the end of each day during the project, the work site must be cleaned up and the waste double bagged and sealed in 4 mil plastic bags.

Disposal of Lead based Paint Waste

Waste from private homes may be placed in with general trash according to trash collection rules. Wastes removed from commercial property must be disposed of according to Wisconsin DNR guidelines for hazardous waste disposal.

Hazard Notification

Neighbors and passersby should be notified of the possible lead hazard by posting at least 2 warning signs (8 1/2 by 11 inches) next to the work area. Please refer to example below.

CAUTION Paint Removal Work Area Danger to Children and Pregnant Women

Don't Forget

Lead based paint is not only a hazard for children. Persons removing or disturbing lead based paint need to protect themselves as well as others and the environment.

Both contractors and those renovating their own property should:
  • Wear a dust mask designed for lead
  • Don't eat or drink on the job site
  • Don't take your work home with you.
  • Set up an area where workers can cleanup and change clothes as they leave the work site

For more information on lead paint hazards and hazard control measures, contact the following sources:

Columbia County Division of Health (608) 742-9227
Wisconsin Division of Health (608) 266-5885

What Can You Do To Reduce Being Exposed?

If you have or suspect you have lead based paint, there are things you can do to minimize your risk of lead poisoning from lead dust and paint chips.

General Recommendations
  • Keep painted surfaces in good condition.
  • Keep children away from peeling paint.
  • Wetmop floors and wetwipe painted surfaces frequently, especially window sills (interior and exterior).
  • Wash children's hands frequently, especially before they eat.
  • Provide a balanced diet with adequate iron and calcium, avoiding fatty foods.

Interim Lead Hazard Reduction Measures

There is an immediate lead hazard if: You have a child six years of age or younger, and You have or suspect you have lead based paint on surfaces that are:
  • Chipping, peeling, flaking or chalking.
  • Subject to friction or abrasion, such as windows, doors or floors.
  • Accessible to child's mouthing (as on window sills).
  • Disturbed through repainting or remodeling activities.

If you have an immediate lead hazard, take the following interim measures as soon as possible.

  1. For both interior and exterior surfaces, remove all scaling, peeling paint by wetting the surface with water and scraping the area until the surface is hard and smooth. DO NOT DRY SCRAPE OR SAND ANY LEADED SURFACE.
  2. Repaint or cover the surfaces with a durable material such as fiberglass cloth or high quality enamel or acrylic paints.
  3. Make lead based painted surfaces inaccessible to children. For example, place furniture in front of windows. Do not place cribs or beds in front of windows.
  4. Perform good housekeeping techniques such as frequent wet mopping and wet wiping to collect any dust containing lead. Wash surfaces with a phosphate water solution using automatic dishwasher detergent.

Safety Procedures

Whether you or someone you hire does the lead work, you must be aware of the following safety precautions. The repair or removal of lead paint produces dust and particles that contain lead. To limit exposure to lead dust and particles, do the following:

  • Keep children and pregnant women out of work areas until final clean up is completed. If large portions of the building are being worked on, all occupants of the building should leave until the work is completed.
  • Workers should use disposable work clothing and shoe covers if possible. Otherwise, work clothing and shoes should be removed before leaving the work area. Wash and dry work clothing separately from other laundry.
  • If dust and particles are produced, workers must use respirators with high efficiency dust filter cartridges.
  • Remove all movable items (furniture, appliances, floor and wall coverings, personal items) from the work area. Cover all nonmovable items with plastic sheeting. Tape any open seams of cabinets, drawers and large appliances in the work area.
  • Shut down forced air ventilation in the work area if possible. At a minimum, seal exhaust and intake points.
  • Seal off the work area from other portions of the building (doorways, hallways), using plastic sheeting. Cover floors with plastic sheeting and seal all edges of the plastic sheeting with tape. Close all doors and windows while the work is being conducted.
  • For exterior paint removal, use plastic sheeting to collect lead dust and debris. Drop cloths should be attached to and extend at least six feet from the base of the structure being worked on.