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University Students and Staff Exposed to Lead Paint

By Ryan Berlin Paints & Coatings
Bascom Hall on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison © Ken Wolter | Dreamstime

When managers are specifying paint for projects within their facilities, it is important make make sure none of the paint is contaminated with lead.

An undetermined number of University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty, students and staff may have been exposed to unacceptable levels of lead dust during painting projects in two buildings this summer and fall, the university notified the campus this week, according to an article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Testing revealed unacceptable levels of lead dust within some areas of Agricultural Hall and Bascom Hall. More testing is being done to determine the extent of the potential contamination, the university's statement said. A contractor removed paint on the northeast emergency stairwell in Agricultural Hall between June and September, and it is believed that lead-contaminated dust escaped the work enclosure, the university said.

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The contractor is cooperating with efforts to determine how the contamination occurred, the university said. Outdoor playground and interior spaces in the School of Human Ecology Preschool Lab located in neighboring Nancy Nicholas Hall also were tested — and the playground and a rooftop terrace were closed out of caution last week — but everything there was within state standards, the university said.

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“We’re addressing this situation quickly and aggressively,” said William Kinsey, UW-Madison chief medical officer. “We’ll continue to provide updates to all groups that may have been affected.”

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommends that regular hand and face washing — especially before meals — can lower the possibility that leadon the skin is accidentally swallowed while eating. All employees have been encouraged to wash their hands and face before eating and before leaving the workplace.

Read more about how to set priorities and develop strategies for IAQ, here.

This Quick Read was submitted by Ryan Berlin, managing editor of Facility Maintenance Decisions, ryan.berlin@tradepressmedia.com.


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