If you are in the process of renting or buying a new home, congratulations! The search process for a new home can be arduous, but when you have found the perfect place to raise your family, it will all be worth it. However, ensuring that your home is up-to-par on inspections and is hazard-free for you and your family is important. For homes built before 1978, conducting lead testing and inspections to ensure your home is not contaminated by lead based paint or other sources of lead is crucial. If you are worried about lead exposure for you and your family, this guide will help you navigate the ins and outs and show you what to do if you think your home or workplace may be exposed.
What Is Lead?
Lead is a natural element found in the Earth’s crust. Lead can be found in various parts of the environment, including soil, water, and air. The federal government has regulatory standards in order to reduce human exposure to lead through air pollution, drinking water, consumer products, and home and occupational settings.
Lead in Your Home
Lead exposure in your home can happen in a number of ways. The first step is to identify possible sources of lead in your home to prevent exposure for you and your family. Common sources of lead exposure in homes and buildings include:
Lead-based paint in older homes and buildings.
If your home was built before 1978, it may contain lead-based paint. The use of lead-based paint in homes was banned in 1978, but 24 percent of homes built in the 1960s, 69 percent of homes built between 1940 and 1959, and 87 percent of homes built before 1940 contain lead based paint. If lead paint is in good shape, it typically isn’t hazardous; the problem is when the paint starts to crack and chip. Surfaces that get a lot of wear and tear can be highly problematic because these areas are more likely to have chipped paint, which releases lead into the air. These areas include:
- Window sills and tracks
- Doors and surrounding areas
- Banisters and railings that have been painted with lead-based paint
- Gates and fences, especially in the handle area
You should immediately tend to any areas with lead-based paint, especially worn or chipping paint, that are within reach of children or pets. Young children and pets are likely to touch these surfaces and then touch their faces and mouths, exposing them to toxic lead. Children are especially susceptible to lead poisoning, so ensuring that no hazardous lead-based painted areas are within their reach is crucial!
If you think your home may be contaminated with lead-based paint, contact us today to schedule an inspection.
Other sources of lead exposure in the home
Lead-based paint, unfortunately, isn’t the only way that lead can infiltrate your home. Lead can also be present in soil surrounding homes, water, and even everyday products that come into your household. Sources to be aware of include:
- Soil may become contaminated by lead-based paint from houses, car pollution, or other waste from lead-based materials.
- Drinking water can also be contaminated by lead through compromised pipes and other means. Plumbing systems built before 1986 are especially likely to have been built with lead both within pipe fixtures and with lead pipes themselves. Even pipes that are deemed “lead-free” can contain up to 8 percent lead, so newer plumbing systems may also be at risk.
- Toys and toy jewelry were once made with lead-based paint and can be a big hazard for kids if they put these toys in their mouths. In 2007, Fisher-Price recalled 967,000 toys because of a lead poisoning hazard, and toys of this sort can still be found today. To learn more about lead in toys and jewelry, consult the EPA’s guide for lead in toys and jewelry.
- Household products in your home may also have been made with lead-containing materials. This can include food containers and cosmetics.
How does lead exposure affect your health?
Lead is a toxic substance, and high levels of exposure can have serious health consequences. Lead can build up in the body and travel throughout your system to the brain, kidneys, and bones. If you are exposed to lead while pregnant, your growing baby can also be at risk for exposure. Finally, children under the age of six are particularly susceptible to this type of toxin. Symptoms of lead poisoning include:
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain and vomiting
- Developmental delay and learning difficulties in children
How to Prevent Lead Exposure
When it comes to avoiding lead exposure, prevention is often the best medicine. Taking steps to reduce lead exposure in your home and in other areas in which your children spend lots of time is a great way to reduce the risk of lead poisoning. Some best practices to adopt include:
- Test your home for lead exposure.
- Inquire about the levels of lead and the most recent testing of your child’s school or daycare.
- Ensure that small children are not within reach of peeling paint.
- Remind your children to always wash their hands, especially before eating and after playing outside.
- Clean children’s toys frequently.
- Ensure children maintain a balanced diet, because children with balanced diets absorb less lead.
Lead Testing and Inspections
If you are worried about levels of lead in your home, workplace, or your child’s school, testing is the easiest way to ease your mind. Lead inspections and testing can identify problem areas, assess quality of drinking water, inform you of the current level of lead in a home or property you are looking to lease or buy, and more. Types of testing we provide include:
- Soil and water testing
- Remodeling testing
- Section 8 compliance testing
- Partial lead testing
- TCLP lead-leaching study
- Full HUD-compliant lead inspection
If you are worried about the levels of lead on your property, we’re here to help. To talk to one of our experts or schedule an inspection of your home or workplace, contact us today!