Adults often downplay the harmful effect of exposing children to lead in the home, especially those adults who grew up in a home or apartment built before 1978, the year lead paint was banned from residential use in the United States. They say: “Look at me. I’m fine. And I grew up when paint always contained lead.”
How lead endangers an unborn child
From the moment a woman discovers she is pregnant, her future child’s development takes center stage. Pre-natal health becomes paramount. But if she lives in a home or apartment constructed before 1978, she unwittingly might be subjecting her unborn child to lead poisoning.
Lead exists in every neighborhood, not just the inner city. It is found most commonly in paint and dust created by disturbing that paint in older homes, as well as in soil and tap water. If a pregnant woman breathes in or swallows the lead detritus, she can pass the toxic substance on to her unborn child. Unfortunately, just opening and closing a window can send lead dust flying through the air, easily inhaled by anyone in the vicinity.
Lead in the body of a pregnant woman can:
• Put her at risk for miscarriage;
• Cause premature birth and low birth weight;
• Adversely affect the fetus’s brain, kidneys, and nervous system;
• Cause learning or behavior problems, including autism-like symptoms, brain damage, lowered IQ, and ADD/ADHD, after the child is born.
Here’s an action plan that every pregnant woman living in a pre-1978 built dwelling should take:
• Have a blood test to determine if there is lead in your body;
• Have your home tested for lead by an environmental testing company. For any renovation, even a simple painting job, test your home before renovation to pinpoint where lead lurks, and after renovation to be sure all traces of lead are gone.
• Leave your home when it is cleaned, painted or remodeled.
• Talk to your doctor if you have the urge to eat soil or clay, a condition called pica. If you have pica, it is imperative to have the soil around your home tested by an environmental testing company.
Rain today, mold tomorrow
Rain today, mold tomorrow
What’s with our recent weather? Earthquake. Two tropical storms. Snow in October. Week-long power outages. They may seem different, but they have something in common: damage to homes and businesses, not to mention the lingering after-effect: mold!
Here we are in autumn when sneezing, coughing, itchy watery eyes, even wheezing, are all expected during the season. But this year’s allergy symptoms might be caused by mold in your home rather than the ragweed in your yard.
A physician can pinpoint the reason why you’re suffering, but only a professional mold inspection service can discover if mold has invaded your home.
The latest technology should be used to locate hidden mold so that your walls, ceilings, and floors are not destroyed during the testing process. Once the culprit is found, you should hire a separate remediation company to do the repairs. You want to be careful not to have the testing and remediation done by the same company as that’s a conflict of interest. Full disclosure: this blog post is sponsored by RTK Environmental Group, which is one of the most trusted environmental service firms in the northeast. After RTK gives you the report, they provide remediation plans so contractors know exactly what to remove and where to find it, and your mold problem will be gone in the most cost-effective way possible. (RTK does not do remediation work.)
Here are some do-it-yourself tasks to help prevent mold before winter sets in.
* Check all washing machine hoses and fittings for leaks and kinks.
* Insulate basement and bathroom pipes that often “sweat.”
* Keep basement drains clean and unclogged.
* Remove window air conditioners or cover them well.
* Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms.
* Install vents near floors and ceilings to allow air flow if your basement walls are finished with sheetrock.them out. In the future, never lay carpet near a moist source.
* Use easily washable area rugs rather than wall-to-wall carpeting, which is often a breeding ground for mold.
* Fix any leaks in your home.
* To direct water away from your home, be sure soil is graded away from the foundation.
* Clear leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts. Be sure to continue this through the winter, removing ice.
* Trim all bushes and shrubs so they are at least 12 inches from your home’s siding.
* Check siding, roof shingles, vents and flashing for proper seal.
Expose your children to secondhand smoke, and lead levels in their blood will spike, according to researchers at the Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Since even small amounts of lead can poison a child (or adult, for that matter), this news is especially alarming. Consider this: one in five U.S. children live with someone who smokes.
Lead is an ingredient in tobacco smoke, measured in both the smoke exhaled by the smoker and in the smoke from the burning cigarette. According to the Centers for Disease Control, a speck of lead dust, as small as a grain of sand, can poison a child, and at low levels, is highly toxic for neurocognitive development and kidney function.
The new study, published in a recent edition of the American Journal of Public Health, evaluated secondhand smoke and its relationship with children between the ages of 3 and 19, all participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), conducted between 1999 and 2004. The 6,830 children were chosen because they were not active smokers and their blood level measurements were available.
The study found that living with one or more smokers significantly increased the children’s lead levels, greater in younger children, which researchers said might be attributed to the greater amount of time younger children spend at home or with a relative who smokes. Existing childhood lead poisoning prevention programs evaluate children’s blood lead levels by considering housing, lead paint hazards, sources of drinking water and industrial plants near homes. Lead from secondhand smoke usually does not come into play. The Hopkins researchers suggest that lead prevention programs should also evaluate smoking exposure at home, and smoke-free environments should be provided for children to reduce lead exposure.
For more about lead and its dangers, click here.