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Update on campus lead issues

October 23, 2017

Between May and September, repainting, including paint removal, was conducted by contractors on emergency stairwells at Agricultural Hall and Bascom Hall. It is believed that lead contamination escaped the work enclosures. Environmental testing in both buildings showed elevated levels of lead in some areas directly adjacent to the work areas.

UW-Madison addressed the situation by relocating employee workspaces and scheduled classes, conducting rigorous cleaning, and offering no-cost outreach blood lead level testing to employees in Agricultural Hall and Bascom Hall, and children who attend the SoHE Preschool Lab.

University Health Services Occupational Medicine received results from nearly 200 venous blood draws collected at outreach clinics and at UHS. All results show blood lead levels within an acceptable range — 0.0 to 4.9 ug/dL — as established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with 182 results at the lowest level of detection. At this time, UHS does not recommend any further testing for employees.

There is no significant risk to the health of the UW–Madison campus community.

University officials are continuing to assess how and why the contamination occurred.

“Buildings have undergone intensive and thorough cleaning by a state-certified vendor. Post-cleaning results show lead levels within an acceptable range as established by the CDC,” says David Darling, associate vice chancellor for facilities planning and management.

Facilities Planning & Management (FP&M) will complete cleaning in Agricultural Hall and Bascom Hall this week, and will continue to monitor and respond to facilities questions and concerns.

“I’m pleased with the swift response of FP&M and UHS to mitigate this situation,” says Laurent Heller, vice chancellor for finance and administration.

Additional employee info

Per recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular hand and face washing — especially before meals — can lower the possibility that lead on the skin is accidentally swallowed while eating, particularly for those who work or live in a building built before 1978. All employees are encouraged to wash their hands and face before eating and before leaving the workplace.

Medical questions can be directed to UHS Occupational Medicine at 608-265-5610 or email For complete information about this situation, visit