Milwaukee parents of lead poisoned kids speak out

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Lead poisoning impacts hundreds of families in Milwaukee and some parents say they don’t know where the lead is coming from.

“He [my son] was delayed and it was like ok, what is it?” said Tana Solomon.

Three years ago, Solomon noticed her son, Brayden, wasn't hitting milestones. So doctors tested his lead

levels and found it was 23 micrograms per deciliter. The Centers for Disease Control says action should be taken for kids with levels above five micrograms per deciliter.

“She [Brayden’s doctor] said levels like that could be brain damaging,” Solomon said.

Dr. Heather Paradis, with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, who is not Brayden's doctor, says lead, even low levels, can cause problems.

“It can cause learning disabilities, it can cause aggressive behaviors, distractibility, hyperactivity,” Dr. Paradis said. “It’s hard to say definitively in many instances that lead a was an issue although our research has shown that lead specifically leads to many of these outcomes.”

Whenever a child living in Milwaukee tests positive for lead, the city health department is notified. Levels as high as Brayden’s prompt a home visit from city’s lead prevention program to find the source of the lead.

“They look through the entire property, interior and exterior, they first and foremost focus on the paint hazards,” said Benjamin James, the lead project coordinator with the City of Milwaukee Health Department.

For any kids with elevated lead levels, the city sends parents information about preventing lead poisoning, including how to flush water pipes.

“It’s a lot of blindsided,” said Evannny Dorsey whose daughter has lead poisoning. “It’s a lot of people who don’t know they’re affected that’s being affected.”

Dorsey’s two-year-old tested positive for lead, with levels of 9.3 micrograms per deciliter.

“It’s devastating,” Dorsey said.

These moms say they do not know what caused their kids' lead poisoning and, at the time, they didn't know they lived in homes with lead lateral, which connect the water line to the house.

“Yeah he was still drinking the water,” Solomon said.

In February of 2016, the city identified 70,000 properties in Milwaukee with lead laterals, and last week, a city's water quality task force voted on several recommendations including accelerating the process of removing those lead lines.

And the health department says it will soon start testing water in homes of kids with extremely high lead levels.

“As recent events have unfolded and resources have become available, water testing is being added to investigations,” James said.

The health department also emphasizes that lead poisoning in Milwaukee is declining. In 2003, 38 percent of kids had levels above the CDC recommendation, in 2014, it was 10 percent.

But for moms with kids already impacted--- the question is how will it impact their futures

“I’m a little upset because you see him now, like he’s five,” Solomon said. “He’s not talking, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

The City of Milwaukee launched the website earlier this year to help parents learn about lead poisoning.

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