Human Health Hazards & Housing Concerns
Public Health Environmental Health Specialists investigate reported human health hazards and may issue orders to abate identified hazards.
File a Complaint
To file a complaint about a health hazard, email Public Health or call at 262-741-3140. If you would like your complaint to remain anonymous, you must indicate that in your email. Please include the following information in your email:
(Items marked with an asterisk are required)
- Any Additional Comments
- Approximate Time Incident Occurred
- Date of Incident*
- Description of What Happened*
- Owner of Human Health Hazard Name*
- Street Address of Health Hazard*
- Whether or not this is an anonymous complaint*
- Your name*
To report structural hazards in residential buildings contact your municipalities' building inspector. Mold is not a regulated substance in Wisconsin and is not considered a human health hazard.
Landlord / Tenant
The following list are the steps you must take regarding your complaint about problems with your landlord before we can assist you.
Contact your landlord with a letter stating the following 3 things:
- Problem-outline the specific problem you would like fixed (mold, leaks, something broken, etc)
- Solution-indicate the solution you want to fix the problem, such as washing off the mold, repairing the water leak, and repairing a broken window
- Time-give the landlord a specific amount of time to fix the problem. Remember, the time frame will depend upon what solution you are seeking. It will take longer to remove and replace drywall for a mold issue than it will to wash the mold off. Be realistic with the amount of time you request.
Sign, date and make a copy of the letter. Send it certified mail with a return receipt requested.
If the landlord is uncooperative or unresponsive to your letter and does not remedy the situation within the time frame you may contact the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). Before you contact DACTP make sure you have a copy of the letter and the return receipt.
Covered Under Municipal Codes
Many problems dealing with plumbing, the physical structure of the building, or maintenance of the structure are often covered under municipal codes and should first be directed to your municipalities building inspector before being brought to Public Health or DATCP.
Official Wisconsin Department of Health Services Position Statement Regarding the Impact of Mold on Health:
Molds grow abundantly on outdoor plants and soil materials. Molds produce spores that are normally found in both indoor and outdoor dust. Mold growth is familiar to most people when it is seen as a fuzzy patch or stain spreading across food or damp surfaces. It is known that many molds produce chemicals that can be toxic if eaten. Little if any of these chemicals are commonly found in indoor air and are not suspected to be a health hazard to the general public.
Mold exposure from breathing indoor or outdoor air can be irritating and can aggravate allergies and asthma. Health effects of mold can be a concern where exposures are very high, such as in sawmills, grain elevators, and agricultural settings. Where there are people with severely weakened immune systems, such as in hospital transplant units, mold infection can be a serious concern and exposures should be aggressively controlled. A physician should be seen whenever health effects are experienced.
It is not practical to expect a building to be completely free of mold, nor is it necessary. However, mold growth on indoor surfaces is a sign of moisture presence, the cause of which should be identified and corrected. Indoor mold growth should be removed regardless of mold type, using appropriate cleaning methods for small spots and careful attention to dust control, seeking professional assistance for larger amounts.
Radon is a naturally occurring, odorless radioactive gas that causes lung cancer. It is attributed with roughly 21,000 lung cancer deaths annually. Nearly every zip code in Wisconsin has found high levels of radon in homes. Walworth County has found higher rates than average in Wisconsin. View the radon map.
Radon in Soil
Most radon in homes comes from radon in the soil that seeps into homes through cracks in the foundation or slab. The amount of radon in the soil varies widely and depends on the chemical make up of the soil. There can be a large difference in radon concentrations in the soil from house to house. The only way to know is to test.
Obtaining a Test Kit
You can get a radon test kit from Walworth County Public Health. Short-term test kits are available for $10. Kits sold by Walworth County include shipping and laboratory analysis in the price.