Make Your Home Lead Safe

Friday, October 12, 2012

It is estimated that nearly 310,000 people in the United States each year are found to have unsafe levels of lead in their blood.

Long term exposure to lead, even in small amounts, can cause a variety of serious health conditions including anemia, abnormal brain development, behavioral problems, and kidney or liver damage. Very high levels of lead poisoning can even result in death.

The most common sources of lead poisoning are lead-based paints and lead contaminated dust in older buildings.

In most cases, individuals with lead poisoning have no symptoms, and unsafe levels of lead can only be detected through a blood test. Children under 6 years of age and pregnant women are at a higher risk and are encouraged to get tested.

Fortunately, lead poisoning is completely preventable and there are simple precautions you can take to make your home lead safe.  

Use Lead Free Pottery - Imported ceramic dishes or pottery may be adorned with lead paint or glaze. Brightly-colored pottery and dishware should be tested before they are used with food.

Cover Bare Soil - Lead from paint chips or dust can settle into the soil around your home. Make sure you cover bare soil with grass, bark, or cement. Never let children play  with or eat  soil.

Wash Toys - Toys or costume jewelry made in other countries may contain lead paint. Toys should be washed often and never placed in the mouth.

Repair Chipping or Peeling Paint  - Homes or apartments built before 1978 may have lead based paint. It is important to repair flaking paint to minimize the possibility of lead exposure. Paint should never be scraped off, sanded or burned off. It is a good idea to consult a professional if large areas of paint need to be repaired.

Wash Hands Frequently - Lead can be transmitted from contaminated objects upon contact, so it is important to wash your hands and face often. Individuals who work in construction, plumbing, or other related fields can take home lead from their job site, so it is advisable to change clothes before coming home and to shower immediately.

Fix Moisture Problems - Maintaining a dry, well ventilated home can minimize peeling paint, which is the leading cause of  lead poisoning. By repairing leaking roofs, pipes, and broken gutters and maintaining a good ventilation system in the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room, you are doing your part to reduce lead exposure in your home.