Lead-Based Paint: What You Need to Know
Lead is a pernicious environmental hazard that can cause severe health problems in both children and adults. In children, lead will wreak havoc with the neurological system as it develops from between 0 – 6 years of age. Pregnant women will pass lead onto their children as it accumulates in their bloodstream. Even if a child that is exposed to lead seems normal, lead can alter their development even later in life – leading to an increased likelihood of depression and poor impulse control in adulthood.
Symptoms of Lead Poisoning
Sustained exposure to lead can cause long-lasting neurological damage or death. Effects of sustained exposure include learning disabilities, shortened attention span, irritability, and lowered IQ. Lead can also affect the blood, kidneys, and other parts of the body.
As lead poisoning becomes serious, symptoms include stomach aches, loss of appetite, or loss of interest. Some children may also become overly active or fussy and irritable.
- Difficulties during pregnancy
- Other reproductive problems (in both men and women)
- High blood pressure
- Digestive problems
- Nerve disorders
- Memory and concentration problems
- Muscle and joint pains
A simple blood test can detect elevated levels of lead in the bloodstream before lead poisoning sets in. Ask your doctor about this blood test today, even if your child is not showing symptoms.
How Do You Get Lead Poisoning?
Lead-based house paint was used in most homes before l950. Lead was still used in some house paints until 1978. Paint on your window frames and on porches is very likely to present a risk for children. Older furniture (cribs, play pens, chairs, etc.) and painted toys may have lead paint. Lastly, old or imported ceramic dishes may be decorated with lead glazes. Food that touches a lead glaze will pick up some of the lead.
Small children don’t discriminate about what they put in their mouths, and those things can contain lead. Children chew on window sills, they eat paint chips, and they suck on their hands. Lead from crumbling paint gets into household dust, and anything that gets dusty (like toys, pets, and fingers) can then become a source of lead poisoning. Many children will eat almost anything. Dirt, including soil from flower pots, plaster, ashes, and charcoal all may have lead.
Making Your Home Lead-Free
Maryland regulations do not allow dry scraping, sanding, or burning of lead paint, because these methods create health hazards. Do replace old windows and wood trim that have deteriorated. Do use only safe methods for removing old paint. Carefully contain and dispose of the hazardous debris and dust from lead paint removal.
Call the Maryland Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at (410) 631-3859 to learn more about safely removing lead paint hazards.
In older houses, lead from old paint can mix with household dust. Special cleaning will lower this hazard. Clean rugs each week with a vacuum. Damp mop floors with a high-phosphate cleaner, such as automatic dishwashing detergent. Mix one tablespoon of detergent with a gallon of hot water. Dust furniture and other surfaces with a damp cloth and high-phosphate cleaner
Older items, such as a crib or toy, which may have been painted with lead paint should be removed from your home. Metal containers, such as pewter or brass pitchers, may have lead and should not be used for food or beverages. Old or imported ceramic containers or dishes which have been coated with lead glazes should not be used.
Other Sources of Lead
While paint, dust, and soil are the most common lead hazards, other lead sources also exist.
Your home might have plumbing with lead 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.
If you work with lead, in lead smelters or other industries that release lead into the air, you could bring it home on your hands or clothes. Shower and change clothes before coming home. Launder your clothes separately from the rest of your family’s.
- Old painted toys and furniture
- Refinishing furniture
- Lead crystal, lead-glazed pottery or porcelain
- Stained glass
- Folk remedies that contain lead, such as “greta” and “azarcon” used to treat an upset stomach
Call ABB Environmental to Schedule a Lead-Based Paint Inspection
We offer XRF testing (the most comprehensive testing for lead based paint on surfaces available), dust wipe sampling for laboratory analysis, soil sampling, water sampling, risk assessment, certification inspections and clearance inspections.