FOX VALLEY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Calumet County, Fond du Lac County, Outagamie County, Winnebago County

Program takes aim at reducing childhood lead poisoning in Wisconsin

Local News

APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV)-The state’s Lead Safe Home’s Program is trying to reduce lead poisoning in children.

According to Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services, over 3,000 Wisconsin children were poisoned by lead in 2019. One of the ways they are exposed to lead is through lead-based paint that is present in some homes built before 1978.

A combination of $14 million in annual state and federal dollars funds it. These costs cover an assessment of each property before and after repairs are made and lead-safe repairs which may include new windows, doors, painting, and other household repairs. The program began in 2019.

Appleton is one of the communities that has houses participating in the program. Today, state and local health officials as well as mayors from Appleton, Neenah, and Menasha had a chance to look at two homes in Appleton that are part of this program.

The two homes are in different stages of the Wisconsin Lead Safe Home’s Program.

Local health officials deemed the one on Harriman Street as inhabitable because of the presence of lead. Lead paint dust can rub off when you’re opening and closing your windows and can even end up in your soil.

This home is now going through the Lead Safe Home’s Program to get the lead dangers removed.
Another home on State Street has completed the program and a family will now be able to move into the house.

This home had new roofing and siding installed, contractors cleaned up lead dust on the window sills, and also repainted the home. The improvements not only make the home safe, but it makes the home look nicer.

“Beautification of the neighborhood is a big component of this,” says Wisconsin Department of Health Services Lead Policy Advisor Brian Weaver.  

Experts tell us Wisconsin has lots of old houses which is why it has one of the highest rates of child lead poisoning in the country. Lead exposure can cause permanent damage to a child’s brain.

“Lead is an environmental health hazard and children are mostly impacted by it,” says Weaver.

Habitat For Humanity owns the houses, helps make them lead safe, and then finds families to move into them. Ultimately, the families who move in will own the homes and pay an affordable mortgage.

“The homes that our families are currently living in have health risks associated with them and we’re helping to move them into home ownership opportunities in this community,” says President and CEO of Fox Cities Habitat for Humanity John Weyenberg.

Property owners who are interested in the program can see if they’re eligible and begin taking steps to enroll by clicking here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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