|Environmental Health||Carbon Monoxide||Fish Consumption Safety||A Healthy Home||Inspection &Licensing||Lead Poisoning Prevention|
|Mold||Preventing Dog Bites||Rabies Control||Radon Protection||Well Water Testing||West Nile Virus|
Safe, clean water is one of the most important substances in our lives—for drinking, cooking, bathing and cleaning. Municipal water systems test their water regularly to ensure it’s safe, but it’s up to private well owners to test their well water annually. Water should also be tested if you notice any change in taste, odor or appearance, or after flooding.
Two very important tests well owners should have are for coliform bacteria and nitrate.
Coliform bacteria can enter groundwater through poorly constructed or unsealed wells, fractured rock outcroppings, sinkholes, coarse soils and quarries. Wells also can be contaminated by insects crawling up under well caps and wells drawing in soil particles through air vents. Hence, the test is used as an indicator of how sanitary the well water is.
Nitrate interferes with the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, thus causing symptoms of suffocation or "blue baby syndrome" in infants. This is a very serious medical condition. Pregnant women also should avoid drinking water high in nitrate because recent research suggests connections between high nitrate water and birth defects and miscarriages.
The laboratory performing your well water tests can also recommend other tests that you might want to run on your water depending on your well’s location, age and nearby land use.
For more information on getting your well water tested contact the Pierce County Public Health office at (715) 273-6755.
Water test kits are available from the UW-Extension Office, 412 W. Kinne
Certified labs in our area:
State Lab of Hygiene: www.wisconsin.gov
Commercial Testing Laboratory, Inc: www.ctlcolfax.com
Environmental Task Force Laboratory (ETF)-UW-Stevens Point:
Eau Claire City-County Health Department:
Related web site: www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/water/dwg/
Radon is an odorless, invisible radioactive gas that comes from trace amounts of uranium occurring naturally in the ground. This gas can seep into a house through the foundation, and breathing air with high levels of radon can lead to lung cancer. Between five and ten percent of the homes in Wisconsin have radon levels above the U.S. EPA guideline of 4 pCi/L for the year average on the main living area. Every region of Wisconsin has some homes with elevated radon levels.
Radon is estimated to cause between 15,000 and 22,000 lung cancer deaths per year, according to the National Academy of Science.
The only way to know that radon level in your home is to measure it. You can purchase a Radon test kit at the Pierce County Public Health Department.
Short-term kits cost $10.00
Long-term kits cost $20.00
Related web sites: www.epa.gov
Lead is one of the most serious environmental hazards faced by young children, especially those between 6 months and 6 years of age. Many lead hazards still exist in homes and the environment, including paint, folk remedies, plumbing, glazed ceramics, vinyl mini-blinds, chalk, candlewicks, and others. These hazards are commonly present during painting and remodeling of pre-1978 housing. When exposed to lead, your children do not show obvious signs of illness unless the amount of lead in their body becomes very high. However, low levels of lead may cause delays in mental and physical development. While these delays may not be visible when the child is young, they may dramatically affect the child’s future. There are medical treatments for lead poisoning, but these have serious side effects and are not recommended unless the child’s exposure is very high. For these reasons, it is critical to prevent children from being exposed to lead hazards.
Simple steps for parents:
Children ages 6 months to 6 years living in or visiting pre-1978 housing are at greatest risk for lead poisoning. Protecting these children from lead hazards does not always need to be complicated. The following basic steps can help prevent a child from becoming lead poisoned or even being exposed to lead:
Keep painted surfaces in good condition
Do not power sand lead-based paint, even hand sanding should be avoided
Wash floors and window wells
Wash your child’s hands often, especially before eating
Eat healthful foods high in iron, calcium, and vitamin C; avoid fatty foods
Use cold tap water for drinking, cooking, and making infant formula
While these steps are important, they may not be enough to eliminate a child’s risk for lead poisoning. For more information on dealing with lead hazards in your home contact the Pierce County Public Health Department at (715) 273-6755.
Blood Lead Screening for Children:
Lead screening is available from the Pierce County Public Health Department to children ages 6 months to 6 years who are unable to be screened by a private medical provider. To obtain lead screening services for your child, call (715) 273-6755 to schedule an appointment.
HEPA VACUUM RENTAL:
A HEPA Vacuum is available to rent for clean-up of lead dust and chips in your home. There is a $25.00 deposit and $4.00 per vacuum bag used.
To obtain more information on rental, call (715) 273-6755
Related Web Sites: www.epa.gov/lead
Rabies is a disease caused by a virus found in the saliva of infected mammals and is transmitted to pets and humans by bites, or possibly by contamination of an open cut with saliva. Treatment is critical for a person who has been infected by rabies because there is no cure.
Skunks, bats, raccoons, foxes, cats, dogs and some farm animals are most likely to get and pass rabies. Rats, mice, squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits are rarely infected. Rabies does not occur in reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds, and insects.
What to do when an animal bites or scratches a human.
If someone is bitten by a cat, dog or wild animal:
1. Wash the wound immediately with soap and running water for at least five minutes.
2. See physician immediately, even for minor wounds.
3. If your pet bit someone or has been bitten, immediately confine the pet and contact the local animal control officer or public health agency and check with your pet’s veterinarian for treatment and rabies vaccination history.
the bite is from a wild or stray animal, DO NOT try to capture the
animal unless you are sure you can do so without incurring injury.
5. DO NOT destroy the animal which has bitten a human or other animal. Contact the local animal control officer or public health agency.
Everyone knows a dog is a man’s best friend. And it is generally true. But every dog has the capacity to bite, and children are most often the ones who get bitten. Everyone, particularly children, should learn some basics about dog behavior and safety around dogs.
"Do’s and Don’ts" around Dogs
Always ask permission to pet a dog.
Never pet a dog without letting it see you and sniff you.
Never go up to a strange dog, particularly one that is confined or restrained.
Never go into a house or a yard where there is a dog without the owner being there.
Never run past a dog or turn your back on a dog and run away (a dog’s natural instinct is to chase and catch its prey)
Do not jump around, wave your arms, scream, even play. These actions excite the dog and stimulate its chase response.
Do not make fast or jerky movements, particularly toward a dog’s head or eyes.
Never disturb a dog that is sleeping or eating, or a dog taking care of puppies.
Never stare at a dog’s eyes. That is how dogs challenge each other to fight, and it can stimulate attack.
Always assume that a strange dog may see you as an intruder or a threat, and be careful.
What to do if you get bitten by a dog
Children should tell their parents immediately. All bites should be reported to the police.
Go to the hospital for treatment.
Tell the police as much as you can about the dog-what it looked like, where you saw it, if you’ve seen it before, and so on. It is important for them to try to find the dog.
most parts of the country, getting rabies from dog bites is a rare
occurrence, but it’s still possible. An important reason to find the dog is to
determine if it’s owned so you can find out if it is current on its rabies vaccination.
Molds are fungi. Their tiny particles are present in both indoor and outdoor air. Molds are very common in buildings and homes, and will grow anywhere there is moisture. Mold growth is encouraged by warm, humid conditions. Indoors, mold can be found where humidity levels are high, such as basements or showers. In nature, molds help break down dead materials and can be found growing on soil, foods, plant matter, and other items.
Molds produce microscopic cells called spores which spread easily through the air. Spores may enter your home through open doorways, windows, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Spores in the air outside also attach themselves to people and animals, making clothing, shoes, bags, and pets convenient vehicles for carrying mold indoors.
Indoors, molds live in areas of high humidity, such as basements or poorly ventilated bathrooms. To grow and multiply, mold requires moisture, nutrients, and suitable material on which to establish itself. Of these conditions, controlling excess moisture is the key to preventing and stopping indoor mold growth.
■ Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.
■ There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
■ Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
■ Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%), decrease mold growth by venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.
■ Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
■ Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
■ Prevent condensation, and reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
■In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation.
Who should do mold cleanup?
Who should do the cleanup depends on a number of factors. One consideration is the size of the mold problem. If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet (less than roughly a 3 ft. by 3 ft. patch), in most cases, you can handle the job yourself.
Related Websites: www.epa.gov/iaq/molds
Did you know your home might have hidden dangers to you and your children’s health? Ask yourself:
Is the air in your home clean and healthy?
Do your children have breathing problems, like asthma?
Is someone in your home allergic to mold?
Do you know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Is there lead anywhere in your home?
Is your tap water safe to drink?
Do you have household products with chemicals in them that can make you sick?
Do you use bug spray or other products to keep pests away?
Do you keep poisons where your children can reach them?
The answers to questions like these will help you learn if your home is safe and healthy.
Follow this link: www.uwex.edu/healthyhome/tool/ and help yourself to a healthy home.
Related web sites: http://dhfs.wisconsin.gov/hometips/index.htm
Nile Virus (WNV) was first identified in the United States in 1999 in
New York City. The virus has moved steadily west since that time and was
found in southern Wisconsin in the summer of 2001. WNV is one of several
viruses transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus
cycles in nature between birds and mosquitoes but can infect human and
domestic animals, such as horses.
Even in areas where WNV has been found, very few mosquitoes (less than 1%) are infected with WNV and less than 1% of people bitten by a WNV-infected mosquito will become sick. When illness from a WNV infection does occur, it takes from 3 to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito for symptoms to appear. Mild symptoms can include headache, fever, muscle pains, a skin rash, or swollen lymph nodes.
In rare instances, WNV causes more serious disease with symptoms of a high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and some cases, death. Severe cases are seen most commonly in the elderly.
is no specific treatment or vaccine for humans infected with WNV but
physicians may treat patients to minimize symptoms of the infection.
Surveillance in Pierce County
The Pierce County Health Department is an active participant in the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS) Dead Bird Surveillance Program. The guidelines established by the DHFS for the reporting and testing of dead birds are as follows:
To report a dead bird, call 1-800-433-1610
Related web sites: http://dhfs.wisconsin.gov/communicable/WestNileVirus/WNVmapWI.htm
Inspection and Licensing Top of Page
Pierce County is an agent for the
State of Wisconsin's Department of Health and Family Services and
therefore licenses and inspects all restaurants, lodging facilities,
swimming pools, campgrounds, recreational educational camps, and body
art establishments within the county.
Temporary events held within the county which serve food, allow camping, provide tattoo/body piercing require a temporary event license.
Carbon monoxide is the most common cause of fatal poisoning in Wisconsin. During the heating season, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increases. Gas ovens, fireplaces, water heaters and furnaces are common sources of this deadly gas, which has no warning odor. Car engines are notorious sources of carbon monoxide and can quickly fill a home with lethal fumes if a vehicle is left running in an attached garage.
early warning signs of carbon monoxide - drowsiness, headache, nausea or
dizziness – are easily mistaken for the flu. When exposure occurs during sleep or
in cases of very high CO levels, unconsciousness and death may occur quickly with
no warning symptoms.
How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure
¨ Use carbon monoxide detectors. Install plug-in units in your home, especially in the sleeping areas. Consider taking them with you while vacationing. Battery powered detectors can be used to monitor CO levels in cabins, campers, tents and boats. Be sure the batteries are fully charged and that the detectors are near the sleeping area, so they will wake you up if there is a problem.
¨ Trust your carbon monoxide detector. If it alarms and you or anyone in your home has symptoms of headache or drowsiness, leave the area immediately and call 911. Have a heating professional inspect your home and correct the source of the problem.
¨ If the alarm sounds and you have no symptoms, reset the detector. If it alarms again, you probably have a low level CO problem that can cause chronic fatigue and other illnesses. Call a professional heating contractor for assistance immediately.
¨ Have your heating system and chimney inspected at the beginning of each heating season. Maintain your furnace and gas appliances according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
¨ Never use fuel-powered space heaters or charcoal grills in an enclosed space. Move grills well away from windows, open doors, tents and campers. Never use a gas oven to heat your home.
¨ Consider sending a CO detector to college or summer camp with your child. Teach them how to respond if the unit alarms.
¨ Learn to recognize the warning signs of carbon monoxide exposure – throbbing headache, drowsiness & nausea.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have issued new recommendations to reduce exposure to mercury in fish for women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
- Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tile fish
- Limit albacore (white) tuna and tuna steak to 6 oz. or less per week.
- You can safely eat up to 12 oz. per week of other fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury. These include shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon and catfish.
Email Privacy Agreement
Please be advised that electronic communications with the department are not encrypted and confidentiality cannot be assured. Pierce County Public Health Staff will not discuss your private information through email until we have received a signed Agreement on the Use of Electronic Mail for Client Communications. Upon review, please sign and return to the department via fax or U.S. mail at the address listed on the form. By signing the Agreement we can begin to communicate with you by e-mail. Click on E-mail Agreement to see document.