Lead Safety


If you own a home or are planning to buy a home built before 1978, here are some facts you should know about lead.
FACT: Lead exposure can harm young children and babies even before they are born.
FACT: Even children who seem healthy can have high levels of lead in their bodies.
FACT: You can get lead in your body by breathing or swallowing lead dust, or by eating soil or paint chips containing lead.
FACT: You have many options for reducing lead hazards. In most cases, lead-based paint that is in good condition is not a hazard.
FACT: Removing lead-based paint improperly can increase the danger to your family.
If you think your home might have lead hazards, consider having your home tested for lead paint to protect your family.
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 the following:
   in homes in the city, country and suburbs
   on apartments, single-family homes, and both private and public housing complexes;
   on the interior and exterior of the house;
   in the soil around a home.  Soil can pick up lead from exterior paint and other sources, such as past use of leaded gas in cars;
   in household dust. Dust can pick up lead from deteriorating lead-based paint and from soil tracked into a home;
   in drinking water. Your home might have plumbing that uses lead pipes or lead solder. Call your local health department or water supplier to find out about testing your water. You cannot see, smell or taste lead, and boiling your water will not get rid of lead.
If you think your plumbing might have lead in it:
   Use only cold water for drinking and cooking
   Run water for 15 to 30 seconds before drinking it, especially if you have not used your water for a few hours.
   on the job. If you work with lead, you could bring it home on your hands or clothes. Shower and change clothes before coming home. Launder your work clothes separately from the rest of your family’s clothes;
   in old (vintage or antique) painted toys and furniture;
   in food and liquids stored in lead crystal, lead-glazed pottery and porcelain;
   from lead smelters and other industries that release lead into the air;
   with hobbies that use lead, such as making pottery or stained glass, or refinishing furniture.
   Bullet re-loading using lead.
   in folk remedies that contain lead, such as “greta” and “azarcon” used to treat an upset stomach.
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.
   Clean floors, window frames, window sills, and other surfaces weekly. Use a mop, sponge or paper towel with warm water and a general all-purpose cleaner, or a cleaner made specifically for lead.
   Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty and dusty areas.
   Wash children’s hands often, especially before they eat, and before nap time and bed time.
   Keep play areas clean. Wash bottles, pacifiers, toys and stuffed animals regularly.
   Keep children from chewing window sills and other painted surfaces.
   Clean or remove shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking in lead from soil.
   Make sure children eat nutritious, low-fat meals high in iron and calcium, such as spinach and dairy products. Children with good diets absorb less lead.
In addition to day-to-day cleaning and good nutrition, you can temporarily reduce lead hazards by taking actions such as repairing damaged amid painted surfaces, and by planting grass to cover soil with high lead levels. These actions, called “interim controls,” 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. Always hire a person with special training for correcting lead problems — someone who knows how to do this work safely and has the proper equipment to clean up thoroughly. Certified contractors will employ qualified workers and follow strict safety rules set by their state or the federal government. To be safe, hire an InterNACHI inspector for your next inspection.