11 Ways to Prevent Lead Poisoning
Simple tips to keep you and your family safe from lead poisoning:
- If your home or apartment was built before 1978, have everyone — children and adults — tested for lead poisoning. It’s a simple blood test. Do not let your doctor talk you out of the test.
- From a total house renovation to a small painting job, you owe it to your family, yourself, your neighbors and your pets to have your pre-1978 built home tested for lead. The EPA recommends homeowners hire a state-licensed testing company— one that does not work for the contractor — to test dust samples from floors and window sills. Find out what a lead inspection entails.
- Before any renovation that disturbs lead paint, be certain your tradespeople are EPA-certified in the Renovation Repair & Painting rule.
- If tradespeople tell you they are not EPA-certified in RRP and that there is nothing to worry about, do not hire them. Also, remind them that if caught, they face stiff fines of $32,000 and possible jail time.
- Read the RRP rule to be sure your contractor is following correct procedures.
- Do-It-Yourselfers (DIYers): Read the RRP rule for lead safe work practices to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your neighbors safe from the harmful effects of lead dust poisoning.
- Retest your home for lead after the work is done to be sure there is no lead dust residue. Unfortunately, even a thorough cleaning of the work area and air vents cannot guarantee that all lead dust has been eliminated.
- Test your water annually. Lead can be found in public water supplies, private wells, pipes and plumbing fixtures.
- If you see neighbors tackling DIY projects that disturb lead paint, ask if they are aware of the RRP rule and if they are taking proper precautions. If they are not and don’t stop working, you can report them to the local EPA office.
- Stay informed. Check out the latest news about lead dust and other environmental hazards in our blog.
- Join RTK Environmental Group in protecting your home and community from lead dust. Share what you know about lead poisoning prevention.
Advice for DIYers
The EPA encourages DIYers to use lead safe work practices, even though the Renovation, Repair and Painting rule does not extend to homeowners. Unknowingly, DIYers can poison themselves, their children, their pets, and their neighbors.
Lead is a toxic metal, harmful to everyone, but especially children, pregnant women and pets. It enters the body through inhalation or swallowing, and annually affects more than 300,000 children younger than six in the United States.
Step One: Test your home for lead.
Step Two: Take the time to read the EPA’s Steps to Lead Safe Renovation, Repair and Painting. There, you will learn lead safe work practices, including how to:
- Minimize dust by misting surfaces before sanding, scraping, drilling, and cutting;
- Properly pry and pull apart materials instead of pounding and hammering them;
- Properly cover the floor or ground within the work area with plastic sheeting to prevent contamination and contain the dust generated by disturbing lead-based paint;
- Warn other people and pets to stay away;
- Clean all tools and equipment, and the work area, using HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaners at the end of each day;
- Leave lead dust behind by changing out of your work clothes before you leave the work area.
True, no one is looking over your shoulder when you’re doing work in your own home, but it is hard to justify not taking precautions, especially if there are small children, pregnant women or pets in the home. Consider your neighbors, too, who can easily become contaminated from lead dust if proper EPA standards are not followed.