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UW conducts testing at Ag Hall, Nancy Nicholas Hall amid lead concerns

September 29, 2017

UW-Madison is taking steps to respond to possible lead contamination created by a recent construction project at Agriculture Hall.

Between June and September, paint removal was conducted by a contractor on the northeast emergency stairwell. However, it is now believed that lead contaminated dust escaped the work enclosure.

Testing conducted this week showed unacceptable levels of lead dust within some areas of Agricultural Hall.

As a result, UW–Madison Environment, Health & Safety is testing to see if dust created by the project also impacted offices and classroom spaces within Ag Hall, as well as the outdoor playground and interior of the School of Human Ecology Preschool Lab, located in neighboring Nancy Nicholas Hall.

Out of an abundance of caution, the playground and a roof terrace have been closed pending the results of the testing. Results are expected next week.

“The safety of our employees and children who attend our Preschool Lab is our most important concern,” says Dr. William Kinsey, director of medical services at University Health Services. “We are in the process of taking all possible steps to remedy this situation. We will share updates and information as soon as we have it.”

The contractor, Structurewerks, is fully cooperating and assisting UW–Madison officials in reviewing the project.


The university has notified potentially affected Ag Hall and SoHE employees, as well as Preschool Lab parents. See below for more specific information and instructions.


Ag Hall employees: UW–Madison is relocating employees whose offices are located in the east wing along the north and east side of the building to alternate work spaces, including the option to telecommute. College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Human Resources has shared information to affected employees.

If desired, employees can make an appointment—at no cost—with University Health Services Occupational Medicine for a blood lead level test by calling 608.265.5610.


Preschool Lab parents and students: Notice of this potential issue was shared with parents this morning. It remains unclear at this time whether areas neighboring Ag Hall—including the Preschool Lab playground and an exterior terrace at Nancy Nicholas Hall—were affected by this project.

Samples were taken from these areas today and results are expected next week.

Children’s health and safety is of the utmost importance to us. We understand this situation is concerning to families. Parents may wish to contact their child’s primary care provider to discuss it. They have the option of requesting a Venous Lead Level test through their provider.


More information will be provided next week as test results arrive.