Lead exposure can produce a wide range of adverse health effects in both adults and children. Lead-based paints and lead contaminated dust are the most frequent sources of exposure in the United States. Lead-based paints were banned for use in homes in 1978. Houses built before 1978 are likely to have some lead-based paint; however, only paint that is chipping or allowed to deteriorate creates the lead dust problem.
All children under the age of six are at risk for lead exposure. Children are more likely to put their hands and other objects, which may be contaminated with lead dust, in their mouths. Children who live in older houses or apartments, many whose families are at or below the poverty line, are at the greatest risk for lead exposure. A simple blood test can determine if a child has been exposed to lead. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 250,000 children under the age of six have too much lead in their blood.
- where your child spends a large amount of time (e.g. grandparents or daycare) were constructed. In houses built before 1978, assume that paint has lead unless tests show otherwise.
- about testing paint and dust from your home for lead.
- . Hands and toys can become contaminated from household dust or exterior soil. Both are known lead sources.
- . Because household dust is a major source of lead, parents should wet-mop floors and wet-wipe horizontal surfaces every 2-3 weeks. Windowsills and wells can contain high levels of leaded dust. They should be kept clean. If feasible, windows should be shut to prevent abrasion of painted surfaces or opened from the top sash.
- . Check the recall lists as some imported toys, jewelry and other decorative products may contain lead.
- . Temporary barriers, such as contact paper or duct tape, can be used to cover holes in walls or to block children’s access to other sources of lead.
- . Provide them with covered sandboxes. Plant grass on areas of bare soil or cover the soil with grass seed, mulch or wood chips, if possible.
Special precautions should be taken during renovation and remodeling activities in any home that contains lead paint. Any time a surface containing lead paint is worked upon, the debris and the dust created by the work must be contained and thoroughly cleaned up.
- Pregnant women and children should not be present in housing built before 1978 that is undergoing renovation. They should not participate in activities that disturb old paint or in cleaning up paint debris after work is completed.
- Create barriers between living/play areas and rooms under repair. Until repair work and clean-up is completed, parents should clean and isolate all potential sources of lead contaminated dust.
- Make sure contractors and workers use lead safe work practices to contain lead dust created by the work in rooms under renovation. Homeowners also should follow lead-safe work practices and wear special protection so they do not breathe in the lead dust.