Lead is a naturally occurring metal in our environment. Lead is toxic to humans, as well as animals, and exposure can lead to lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can cause a wide variety of complications including lower IQs, problems with educational achievement, behavioral changes, and anemia.
Lead can be found throughout the community, but much of the lead exposure is due to homes and childcare facilities, built before 1978, that have lead paint. Lead was banned from being added to residential paints and varnishes in 1978, but because of its prior widespread use it still exists under layers of painted surfaces and soil in the community.
Young children are typically exposed through hand-to-mouth contact after touching lead-tainted dust on surfaces and not through eating paint chips. Another common way people are exposed to lead is from unsafe paint disturbing practices when renovating an older home, which can lead to the inhalation of airborne lead dust or fumes.
Other sources of lead exposure can include: lead in drinking water service lines and fixtures, some ceramics, leaded crystal, toys, jewelry, ammunition, solder and traditional medicines and pigments.
The Rock County Public Health Department encourages all families to be aware of their environment and test their children for lead at one and two years of age if there is a potential for exposure. Our Public Health Nurses provide education regarding lead poisoning prevention to families whose children are at increased risk for lead poisoning. In addition, our Public Health Nurses and Environmental Health Specialists provide case management for families that have been identified as having a child with an elevated blood lead level in hopes we can prevent further exposure to lead and its complications. This includes information on nutrition, potential exposure, developmental screenings, a written report of lead hazards in the home and recommendations on further testing and medical follow up.