What is lead and why is it harmful?
Lead is a natural metal that has been deemed toxic to the human body. It can enter the body via the mouth and through absorption in the skin. Once ingested it makes its way through the bloodstream infecting many parts of the body. Common health problems are: decreased muscle growth, poor muscle coordination and speech delay.
Where is harmful lead found?
If your home was built prior to 1978, there is a very strong chance lead based paints were used in the building process. If you renovated a room where lead paint was used, the dust can contaminate the surrounding areas as well as the soil outside your home. Window sills, door frames, railings and porch banisters are all hot spots in the older home. Antique furnishings and painted wooden toys should also be handled with care, especially if you are restoring them.
What steps do I take to remove lead in the home?
If you feel you may have lead in your home your first step is to contact a certified lead inspector. They will perform several safe tests that can determine if lead is present. It is not recommended that you buy a test kit yourself as most are unreliable and can potentially expose you to lead during the collection process.
If a test reads positive, hiring a company that specializes in lead removal is strongly advised. Until the professional removes the paint you can clean up any paint chips, wipe down dusty areas and limit activity in the affected room. Always wear protective gear, such as masks, eye-wear and gloves before treating these surfaces.
What should I do if I feel my family has been exposed to lead?
Children under the age of 6 are more susceptible to lead poisoning because of their natural tendency to place objects in their mouths. Their bodies are also more likely of absorbing the toxins harming their still developing nervous system. Lead poisoning can often be hard to detect until high amounts are present in the body. Common symptoms can include headaches, slow growth in children, abdominal pain, mood swings and trouble sleeping. A simple blood test can determine if lead is present in the body. If you or your child tests positive your doctor will determine the best course of treatment.
National Lead Prevention Week is October 22nd thru the 28th. Take some time to visit the CDC website to learn more about prevention, risks and removal.