National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week has begun. The CDC's theme is Lead Free Kids for a Healthy future. Even with all the warnings and education, the United States still sees over half a million children with high levels of lead in their blood work. If not treated, the child's behavior and development abilities can suffer. Education and testing are the two best weapons we have to eliminating this problem.
Up until 1978 lead was added to paint to help maintain color, increase drying time and combat moisture. It wasn't until 1977 that the government stepped in and banned it's use in paints for the home and on toys. In 2009, the EPA started requiring any remodeling project in which the home or business was built before 1978 to be certified. This meant all work was to be completed by someone who was trained to conduct lead safe work practices. Even with these new precautions, as of 2018, 37 million homes and apartments still contain lead-based paints.
Is Lead Present in My Home?
If your home was built before 1978, there is a good chance lead-based paint was used. Before you start thinking you need to buy a new home, let's go over the steps you can take regarding testing and ensuring your families health
Visiting your doctor and getting a simple screening for lead in your bloodwork is the first step. If the results are higher than what is a normal reading, then finding the source in your home is your next priority.
As you examine your home, you want to be looking for areas that have deteriorating paint that may be creating peeling chips and dust. It is the traveling dust, as is clings to shoes, clothing and feet & hands that is harmful. Small children in the home are more susceptible to these dangers because they may still be crawling and placing their hands and objects in their mouths. Don't forget to examine window sills and older painted toys.
If you discover an area that you are concerned about, your next step is to get the area tested. You can choose to test the area yourself by looking for a kit that checks lead levels in the home. Make sure you follow the instructions and wear gloves or protective eye-wear if the instructions need you to gather paint chips.
You could also hire a professional to test your home. Although this method has a higher price tag, these technicians will do a thorough job and can provide you with a wealth of knowledge regarding various treatments should high levels be discovered.
If your home should come up negative (heavy sigh of relief), but your lead levels tested high, look to older homes or businesses that you frequently visit. They could be the source and should be examined as well.
Treatment and Beyond
If lead is discovered in your home, there are several options for the homeowner. Most times just sealing the area with an encapsulated material (not just brushing over with regular paint) is a safe, effective fix. Keeping your home clean and dust free, encouraging shoes being taken off before walking through the house and cleaning toys that frequently go into a younger child's mouth are all excellent measures to take. Eat well! Studies have found that children that have healthy diets absorb less lead.
If the area is extremely troublesome, contacting a professional to see what options are available is your smartest choice. Ask about grant programs that may be able to assist in costs or providing materials.
Treatment to remove lead in your body usually involves a medicine that helps carry away the lead in your urine. However, consult with your doctor to see what treatment is best for you and your family.
The CDC and EPA have a wealth of information that is just a click away. We will include a few websites at the end of this blog. Teach your older children and new moms about the dangers of lead poisoning. Know the symptoms of lead poisoning and seek out early treatment.
A little bit of knowledge goes a long way. We look forward to the year we don't have to write a blog about lead poison prevention! Let's all work on this together.