Lead Service Lines and Redlining in Milwaukee, WI

Environmental Injustice and Public Health Crisis 

In 2016 Flint Michigan made national headlines when organizations, including local parents, advocated for children who were exposed to lead through remaining service lines. 2.4 % of children in Flint had elevated levels of lead in their blood. 

In another rust belt city, Milwaukee Wisconsin, 10.8% of children tested in 2016 had elevated lead blood levels, nearly four times higher than Flint Michigan. 

Of the children who tested positive for elevated lead levels half were Black, and yet according to the 2021 Census only 7 % of  WI residents are Black.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin is known as one of the most segregated cities in the U.S largely because of historic red-lining. The city of Milwaukee dictates when it is required to replace lead service lines otherwise the cost of replacing public and private pipes and hiring a required licensed contractor falls onto the property owner. 

How does historic red-lining and current demographics compare with the presence of lead pipes the city has decided aren’t required to be replaced? 

Click here to learn more using our story map.


By Bri Stevens