Lead poisoning

Lead poisoning is an environmental disease that can cause brain damage. It can result in reduced IQ and attention span, learning disabilities, developmental delays and a range of other health and behavioral effects. Lead poisoning is considered a housing-based disease because most exposures for young children occur in homes built before 1978. More than half of the homes built before 1978 contain some lead-based paint and is more common in homes built before 1960. In 1978, lead was banned from being added to paint and varnish for residential use. However, because lead was added to products for many years, the lead is still present in the underlying layers of paint and varnish.

Homeowners renovating or repairing a pre-1978 home should be aware of Wisconsin’s lead safe renovation rules.

You should assume your house contains lead unless an inspection shows it does not. The lead-based paint chips and particles can mix with the dust caused by standard construction, which could be breathed or swallowed. Contractors must be certified Lead-Safe Renovators to perform or direct work on homes containing lead because they are trained to control and contain the dust and debris, minimizing the risk. They know how to protect themselves from risk and thoroughly cleanup, ensuring the lead is gone. 

Verify that your contractors are Lead-Safe Renovator certified.

They should give you a copy of the Environmental Protection Agency pamphlet called The Lead-Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right and have you sign confirmation of receipt. Further, prior to the start of any renovation or repair, the contractor should provide you with an occupant protection plan and checklist. This checklist describes how the contractor will protect people and possessions during lead abatement work. By following lead-safe practices, your contractor can prevent lead hazards to you, your family and pets.

More information

A list of certified lead-safe companies  and more information can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Health Services  website.