Why Do You Need to Be Concerned About Lead?
Despite its long history of use, lead is a hazardous and toxic metal. It is still present in many products found in and around our homes, emitted into the air from motor vehicles and industrial sources, or contaminating drinking water from old plumbing materials. Lead can cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities to seizures and death. Children six years old and under are most at risk.
Common Sources of Lead Poisoning
- Deteriorating lead-based paint
- Lead-contaminated dust
- Lead-contaminated residential soil
Where Lead is Found
In general, the older your home, the more likely it has lead-based paint.
Paint. Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint. The federal government banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978. Some states stopped its use even earlier. Lead can be found:
- In homes in the city, country, or suburbs.
- In apartments, single-family homes, and both private and public housing.
- Inside and outside of the house.
Where Lead Is Likely a Hazard
Lead from paint chips, which you can see, and lead dust, which you can’t always see, can pose a serious hazard.
Peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking lead-based paint is a hazard and needs immediate attention.
Lead-based paint may also be a hazard when found on surfaces that children can chew or that get a lot of wear and tear. These areas include –
- Windows and window sills.
- Doors and door frames.
- Stairs, railings, and banisters.
- Porches and fences.
What You Can Do To Protect Your Family
If you suspect that your house has lead hazards, you can take some immediate steps to reduce your family's risk:
- If you rent, notify your landlord of peeling or chipping paint.
- Clean up paint chips immediately.
- You can temporarily reduce lead hazards by taking actions such as repairing damaged painted surfaces and planting grass to cover the soil with high lead levels. These actions are not permanent solutions and will need ongoing attention.
- To permanently remove lead hazards, you must hire a certified lead "abatement" contractor. Abatement (or permanent hazard elimination) methods include removing, sealing, or enclosing lead-based paint with special materials. Just painting over the hazard with regular paint is not enough.