A Healthier Wisconsin

Water Lead Testing Feasibility Project to Identify At-Risk Persons for Lead Poisoning and Referrals

Developing partnerships to refer children and pregnant woman at risk of poisoning because of elevated lead levels in tap water to blood testing and abatement resources

Full Project Name:Water Lead Testing Feasibility Project to Identify At-Risk Persons for Lead Poisoning and ReferralsPrimary Community Organization:Community Water ServicesPrincipal Investigator:Ronald Anguzu, MD, PhD, MPH, Institute for Health and EquityAward Amount:$50000
Award Date
Project Duration:12 months

Project Description Narrative:

Lead in the drinking water of the older housing stock across U.S. cities continues to be a serious public health problem. It is estimated that there are approximately 67,000 to 70,000 homes with lead service lines in Milwaukee, representing more than 40% of the 164,000 water service lines in the city. Over 35,000 children under the age of six are estimated to reside in those households. Review of data on a website maintained by the City of Milwaukee indicates that a high proportion of properties with lead service lines are located in some of Milwaukee's most economically challenged areas. Much of the older housing stock in these areas is also likely to have internal lead pipes, kitchen faucets, bathtub fixtures, and shower heads that may contribute to the lead poisoning problem.

Exposure to lead in young children can result in life-long adverse health effects, including: damage to the brain and nervous system; slowed growth and development; learning and behavior problems; hearing and speech problems; attention-span deficits; and underperformance in school. Although the health effects of exposure to lead are most harmful to children under the age of six, they also have lasting effects into adulthood, including dementia, kidney disease, and other organ ailments.

Community Water Services (CWS) will explore and test the feasibility of CWS’s in-house water lead testing approach to identify children and pregnant women at risk of lead exposure and help them access needed medical intervention. In addition, CWS will develop community-level partnerships with various key organizations (the City of Milwaukee Health Department, advocacy and education organizations, and healthcare providers/clinics) to design and promote comprehensive and cost-effective ways to identify and respond to the negative health effects of lead in-home water supply systems.

Community partners: Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin, Coalition on Lead Emergency, Milwaukee Health Department, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Wisconsin Department of Health Services

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8701 W Watertown Plank Road,
Milwaukee, WI 53226-0509
(414) 955-4350