lead

Susan Bence

Residents in Milwaukee may be growing their vegetables in soil tainted with lead, without knowing it. A handful of partners are working built awareness of this problem and reduce the risks.

Growing Healthy Soil for Healthy Communities, which includes such partners as Medical College of Wisconsin and the UW Department of Soil Science, is reaching out to residents on the north and south sides.

Avigail Becerra has become one of the program’s staunchest advocates.

DNR and Milwaukee Leaders Agree: Wisconsin Must Do More to Protect Residents from Lead in Water

Sep 8, 2016
Lukas Keapproth / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Top Milwaukee and state officials agreed Wednesday that Wisconsin must move as quickly as possible to replace all of the estimated 176,000 lead pipes providing drinking water to homes and business in the state, with Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp declaring, “If it costs a lot of money to do that, then it costs a lot of money to do that.”
 

MADISON WATER UTILITY

Mayor Tom Barrett made a surprise water announcement Wednesday saying anyone living in a home built before 1951 should install water filters to protect residents from possible lead poisoning.

He issued the advice while taking part in a public policy conference at Marquette University Law School.

TOOL: Do You Have Lead Pipes in Your Home?

Susan Bence

In this era of urban agriculture, Milwaukee is making a name for itself as a leader. At the same time, a group tuned into the dangers of lead in the soil wants to use the urban farming wave to inform families.

In Milwaukee, an estimated 10 percent of kids under age six have unhealthy levels of lead in their blood - levels that could cause permanent brain and nervous system disabilities.

A major culprit has been the lead-based paint used on houses decades ago. Those paint chips can also make their way into family gardens.

The residents of Flint, Mich., received some welcome news this week: Researchers released the results of a new round of water tests, showing lead levels in that city's water system falling just below the Environmental Protection Agency action level.

Too many water samples above that level is a red flag for utilities, a sign that they may have a broader lead problem.

Virginia Tech researcher Marc Edwards, who leads the team documenting Flint's water problems, called the new results the "beginning of the end," a turning point in the city's saga with corrosive water.

When lead was taken out of products like paint and gasoline, levels of the metal in the blood of U.S. children dropped. But the American Academy of Pediatrics says the problem is not over.

Susan Bence

Milwaukee recently found itself on a list of 33 cities accused of concealing dangerous levels of lead in its drinking water. The Guardian claims the city’s testing methods are faulty because testers run faucets – or pre-flush a water system – before collecting the samples.

Flint, Mich., isn't the only American city with a lead problem. Though the health crisis in Flint has highlighted the use of lead in water pipes, author David Rosner tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that lead, which is a neurotoxin, can be found throughout the U.S. on walls, in soil and in the air.

"The problem with lead is that it's now really everywhere, and we've created a terribly toxic environment in all sorts of ways," he says.

S Bence

While the country remains riveted to Flint, Michigan because of its contaminated drinking water, other cities, including Milwaukee, have huge lead problems of their own.

An estimated 10 percent of kids under age six in Milwaukee have unhealthy levels of lead in their blood. The culprit: lead-based paint.

It’s long been banned, but thousands of older houses, especially in low-income areas, still contain it.

Lead Pipes, Antiquated Law Threaten Wisconsin’s Drinking Water Quality

Feb 1, 2016
Siddhartha Roy / FlintWaterStudy.org

Experts, and even some regulators, say existing laws are failing to protect Wisconsin and the nation from harmful exposure to lead in drinking water that leaches from aging plumbing — a danger illustrated by the public health crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Lead in Drinking Water Poses Danger for Children, Pregnant Women

Jan 31, 2016
Matt Campbell / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Lead in drinking water, which has ignited a public health crisis in Flint, Michigan, is largely ignored as a potential contributor to elevated blood lead levels in thousands of Wisconsin children, records and interviews show.

Nearly 4,000 children in Wisconsin were diagnosed with elevated levels of lead in their blood in 2014, though the number has fallen over the years thanks in part to bans on lead in paint and gasoline. Unlike in Flint, however, it is not known to what extent lead in the drinking water contributes to elevated blood lead levels in Wisconsin.

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