Evaluation of the Milwaukee Lead Ordinance

Project Funder: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Project Partners: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Battelle Memorial Institute

Project Contact: Jonathan Wilson, jwilson@nchh.org, 443.539.4162

Project Description: In 1999, the City of Milwaukee enacted an ordinance requiring owners of pre-1950 rental properties in two high-risk neighborhoods to carry out specified essential maintenance practices and standard treatments, including window abatement. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development contracted with Battelle and the National Center for Healthy Housing to evaluate the effectiveness of the ordinance.

The research team developed a prospective longitudinal study design that followed the blood lead levels of children born into treated homes and the dust lead levels in those homes when the children reached one, 12, 18, and 24 months. The study also enrolled children age 18-24 months who had a blood lead test conducted one year previously and who had lived in the same untreated housing unit continuously for that year. After enrollment into the control arm, the study collected dust lead samples from the home and collected a second blood lead sample from the child. Homes with lead hazards were referred to the city’s lead hazard control program. The results showed that children in the treated units had lower blood lead levels at six and 12 months than in the control population, but that by 24 months there was no significant difference between the two groups, possibly due to attrition or other reasons.

Resources

Strauss, W., Tsai, H.-C., Pivetz, T., Slone, E., & Menkedick, J. (2004, October). Evaluation of the effectiveness of the Milwaukee lead hazard control ordinance: Summary report. Columbus, OH: Battelle Memorial Institute.