WI DHS lead abatement program receives federal approval

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV)-- The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) will be able to implement an initiative to provide lead abatement services to the homes of low-income children and pregnant women after receiving federal approval.

DHS officials announced the approval from the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Thursday.

The program will provide the abatement services for those who are enrolled in BadgerCare Plus and Medicaid.

Governor Tony Evers’ budget set aside $14.2 million in lead testing and abatement and $2 million for the new Lead-Safe Homes Program.

“This is a great step toward my goal to ‘get the lead out’ of Wisconsin homes so that our families, and most of all our kids, don’t have to worry about lead poisoning and the long term health and learning affects that come with it,” said Governor Evers.

The lead abatement services include removing lead based paint and lead dust hazards, replacing fixtures, and removing soil lead hazards. DHS will be directing the statewide effort.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 4,000 Wisconsin children under six were found to have lead poisoning in 2016. Lead can interfere with brain development and can result in lower IQ, learning difficulties, reduced educational achievement, and greater likelihood of behavioral problems like aggression, hyperactivity, and delinquency.

DHS officials said more than 220,000 children have been exposed to lead in Wisconsin since 1996. Children living in Milwaukee and Racine are at the greatest risk of exposure due to the volume of older homes, but officials said any child who lives in a home built before 1978 is at risk for exposure.