The following information is taken directly from the environmental protection agency’s (EPA) website to provide you with a small amount of information to help you get started on keeping your home safe for you and your children. Park Slope Parents also has a recommendations section for lead specialists.
For more extensive information on lead and lead poisoning, please visit:
- The EPA's Lead page
- NYS Department of Health: Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention
- NYS Department of Health info pamphlet on lead poisoning
- Mayo Clinic page on Lead exposure: Tips to protect your child
- American Academy of Pediatrics page on Where We Stand: Lead Screening
Important Message from Park Slope Parents (PSP): Just a reminder, PSP member posts are not checked for accuracy. The content is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. www.parkslopeparents.com is not intended to, and does not, provide medical advice diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice, or delay in seeking it, because of something you have read on the PSP groups or on the www.parkslopeparents.com website.
IN THIS ARTICLE:
Understanding lead in our homes
References and group advice from those who have dealt with lead
Lead hazards and lead poisoning prevention resources
Financial assistance for lead activities
PSP comments and advice on handling lead paint
UNDERSTANDING LEAD IN OUR HOMES
- Lead is a metal that has been mined for thousands of years. In the past, it was used to make common items found in or near homes. These items include paint, gasoline, water pipes, and food cans.
- Lead-based paint is no longer used in homes, on children’s toys, or on household furniture. In 1978, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned its sale for use in residences. That same year, the CPSC also made it illegal to paint children’s toys and household furniture with lead-based paint.
- Lead is highly toxic. Exposure to it can be dangerous, especially for children who are 6 or younger. But lead is also stable and easy to work with, so it has been used for many purposes in our homes.
- It is important that every parent know where lead can be found, and how to control it.
- Lead-based paint that is in good condition is usually not a hazard.
- Eighty-three percent of private housing and 86 percent of public housing built prior to 1980 contain some lead-based paint.
- Lead-based paint is a hazard if it is peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking. Even lead-based paint that appears to be undisturbed can be a hazard if it is on surfaces that children chew or that get a lot of wear and tear.
These areas include:
-- windows and windowsills
-- doors and door frames
-- stairs, railings, and banisters
-- porches and fences
- Even surfaces that have been covered with new paint or another covering can expose older lead-based paint layers when they become cracked or chipped. The older your home is, the more likely it is to contain lead-based paint.
- Carbon, sand, and cartridge filters do not remove lead from water, although some filters are certified for lead removal.
- Painted toys and household furniture made before 1978 may be painted with lead-based paint. Do not let children chew on any older, painted toys or furniture, such as cribs or playpens.
- The only way to know if you have lead poisoning is to get a blood test from your doctor.
- A child does not have to eat paint chips to get lead poisoning. It is more common for a child to swallow lead dust or soil that contains lead from paint.
- Make sure your children eat at least three meals a day. Less lead is absorbed when children have food in their systems.
- Give your children foods high in iron and calcium, such as milk, cheese, fish, peanut butter, and raisins. When a child does not have enough iron or calcium in his or her body, the body mistakes lead for these nutrients. A diet lacking protein, vitamin C, and zinc may also cause increased blood-lead levels.
- Avoid giving your children fried and fatty foods. These foods allow the body to absorb lead faster. Cut down on fat by baking, broiling, or steaming food.
- Here are some tips on when to test, and how often:
-- If your child is at risk of lead exposure, have the child tested at the age of 6 months.
-- Repeat the test every 6 months until the age of 2 years. After that, have the child tested once a year until age 6.
-- If your child is not at risk of lead exposure, have the child tested for the first time at the age of 1 year, and again at age 2.
- Although your home may be free of lead-based paint hazards, your child could still be exposed elsewhere. It is important that any place in which your child spends more than 10 hours a week be free of lead hazards.
Lead cannot be seen. Lead cannot be felt. But lead poisoning can be prevented. In most parts of the United States, state and local agencies are available to help you prevent lead poisoning. Following are simple things you can do in your home to lower the chances of exposure to lead:
- Keep your home clean by washing floors, window frames, window sills, and other surfaces weekly. Use a mop or a sponge with a solution of water and an all-purpose cleaner or a cleaner made specifically for lead to clean up dust. Clean up paint chips using a wet sponge or rag
- Completely rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty or dusty areas.
- Clean or remove shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking in lead from soil.
- Have children play in grassy areas instead of soil.
- Never allow children to play under windows or around painted surfaces that often rub together or get bumped.
- Make sure children wash their hands after playing outside and before eating or going to bed.
- Keep play areas clean. Wash bottles, pacifiers, toys, and stuffed animals regularly.
- Keep children from chewing on painted surfaces, such as window sills, cribs, or playpens.
- Use cold water for drinking or cooking since lead is more likely to leach into warm or hot water.
- If you rent property, tell your landlord about peeling or chipping paint.
Should I get my home tested?
If your home was built before 1978 and you have children ages 6 or younger, consider testing. A good time to do it is before you move into a new home or have a baby.
To test your home for lead, have either a risk assessment or a lead inspection done.
A risk assessor tells you if your home contains sources of lead exposure such as peeling paint or lead dust. If you suspect you have a lead problem, a risk assessment is usually the most appropriate way to test for lead hazards.
A lead inspector can reveal the lead content of every painted surface in your home.
The purpose of the inspection is to test each type of painted surface in your home and to answer two questions:
(1) Is lead-based paint present?
(2) If lead-based paint is present, where is it located?
For a list of certified lead inspectors and risk assessors in your area, call your state lead contact or check our here.
- Home test kits use chemicals to detect lead in paint, soil, and dust.
- Do not rely on home test kits. Studies show that they are not always accurate.
- The Federal Government does not currently recommend home test kits to detect lead in paint, dust, or soil. Studies show the kits are not reliable enough to tell the difference between high and low levels of lead.
- Before beginning work, hire a professional to test affected areas and see if lead hazards exist.
- Call your state lead contact or the HUD Lead Listing at 1-(800)-LEAD-LIST for a list of qualified consultants in your area who perform testing services.
- If you have already completed repairs or remodeling that could have released lead-based paint or dust
- Have your children ages 6 or younger tested for lead. Call your doctor or your local health department to schedule testing.
- Keep children away from dust and paint chips.
- Clean up all dust and chips with wet mops and rags. Pay special attention to floors and window troughs.
- If the test reveals lead-based paint in your home, it is best to have any repair or remodeling work done by a renovator who knows how to protect your family from exposure to lead dust. It is best to hire one who has training and experience in dealing with the hazards of remodeling or renovating homes with lead-based paint.
- If you chose to do this work, you should follow all of the work practices and safety precautions in the EPA’s lead guide.
- Some state and local agencies can arrange for needed services at no cost to you, and some offer financial help.
- Many agencies:
-- Conduct free blood-lead screenings or direct you to a source of free testing.
-- Help pay for a lead inspection and, if necessary, the removal of lead based paint by a trained professional.
-- Provide temporary housing, called Safe Houses, for families undergoing lead removal
- Call the HUD Office of Affordable Housing Programs at 202-708-2470 for information on the HUD HOME Program. One of the activities provided for under this program is financial help for major home repairs to low-income people who have lead-based paint in their homes.
REFERENCES AND GROUP ADVICE FROM THOSE WHO HAVE DEALT WITH LEAD
- NY State Environmental Health: 800-458-1158 x27600
- National Lead Information Center
- EPA page on Protecting Children's Environmental Health
- US Consumer Product Safety Commission
- Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes
LEAD HAZARDS AND LEAD POISONING PREVENTION RESOURCES
- Call the National Lead Information Centers Clearinghouse at (800) 424-LEAD to speak with a lead information specialist. The clearinghouse can provide general lead information. It can also provide testing and laboratory information.
- Call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791 for information on lead hazards in your drinking water.
- Call the Consumer Product Safety Commission Hotline at (800) 638-2772 for information on lead in consumer products.
- Call the National Conference of State Legislatures at (303) 830-2200 for a list of local health department contacts for lead poisoning services.
- Visit the EPA lead home page at www.epa.gov/lead to get information on lead regulations and to learn about other EPA and Federal agency efforts to reduce lead exposure.
Call your health care provider or local health department. They can either provide blood-lead testing or refer you to someone who can.
- Call the National Lead Service Providers Listing System at (888) LEAD-LIST for a list of inspectors, risk assessors, and abatement contractors who have received training from a state accredited training provider. Or get the list online here
- Call the NY state lead contact for a list of contractors who perform lead activities in your area. See phone and information in the below section.
- Call the National Lead Information Centers Clearinghouse at (800) 424-LEAD if you have a tip or complaint about a lead service provider who may have done work incorrectly.
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR LEAD ACTIVITIES
- Call your state lead contact:
Bureau of Community Sanitation and Food Protection
New York State Department of Health
1215 Western Avenue
Albany, NY 12203
- Call the National Lead Information Center’s Clearinghouse Maintained by EPA at (800) 424-LEAD. The clearinghouse sends testing and laboratory information to those who request it.
PSP COMMENTS AND ADVICE ON HANDLING LEAD PAINT
- "Renovations do release lead dust into the air."
- "To do the clean-up ourselves, we followed procedures recommended by the EPA, the company that did the lead testing, and other websites. EPA site also has other useful info. Lead fact sheet -- has directions for cleaning up. Use Cascade for the soap -- it has phosphates that bind to the lead. It did work, because we had the apartment tested again afterwards, and the levels were fine."
- "A main concern is the dust created by the painters' prep work. Tile work and sink replacement are not much of an issue. It's important that your landlord use contractor's that are aware of lead safety issues. For example - wet sanding vs. dry, containment of dust to immediate work area with plastic barriers, and proper clean up after completion using a vacuum with a HEPA filter and a lead dust cleaner such as Ledizolv."
- "Full abatement of surfaces with lead paint is typically a bad idea as the abatement process often creates more of a lead hazard. It's better to keep the surfaces in good repair."
- "Before the baby arrives, it's important to have any cracked or peeling paint areas addressed to minimize their potential exposure - ideally try to be out of the apartment while the work is going on and until clean up is completed."
- "Lead dust exposure is a danger not only for work in your apartment, but demolition/sanding in another apartment can track dust through a common hallway. Also if there is a dumpster outside the building, make sure it is properly covered and your windows are closed."
- "You can get a quick lead paint test at Pintchnik's or any hardware store to make sure everything is cleared. Anyone can use it for chips of paint in old apartments."
BE SAFE AND ENJOY YOUR HOME!