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Protecting Your Family: Understanding and Preventing Lead Poisoning

March 18th marks the beginning of National Poison Prevention Week, a time to shine a light on the hidden dangers of lead poisoning and take proactive steps to safeguard your family.

The Threat of Lead Poisoning

Lead exposure poses significant risk, especially for young children. Shockingly, 1 in 40 children in the United States, aged 1-5 years old, has unsafe levels of lead in their blood, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This means that approximately 3.3 million American households with children under six live in homes containing lead-exposure hazards, a devastating statistic because the effects of lead poisoning can be severe and long-lasting. It can impact brain development and cause a range of health problems, including autism-like symptoms, brain damage, lower IQ, ADD, tendencies towards violence, and behavioral and learning problems.

Identifying Lead Exposure Sources

Where is lead harbored?

  • Older Homes and structures built before 1978 often contain lead-based paint and other materials like asbestos. When disturbed (during renovations and sanding, for example), dangerous lead paint chips and lead dust can be released. Even opening and closing an old window can release dangerous amounts of this toxic dust.
  • The soil in our surroundings often contains harmful remnants from past industrial practices or the use of leaded gasoline. If ingested or breathed in, it can cause serious health problems.
  • Water supply: In older homes, lead pipes or solder within plumbing systems can contaminate drinking water.
  • Imported Goods: Some products from countries without the same safety standards as the U.S., may unknowingly contain lead.

Taking Action to Stay Safe

Protect your family, especially children, by following these steps:

Test and Screen

  • Get a Professional Home Inspection: If you suspect risks to your home, have it professionally inspected for lead. Children should also undergo regular screenings by their doctor to check for any signs of lead exposure.
  • Take Precautions during Renovation: Before any renovation, test your home for lead paint, especially if it was constructed before 1978.
  • Hire Certified Professionals: It is imperative that the company responsible for your project holds certification in lead-safe work practices issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Practice Awareness and Cleanup: Be mindful of the presence of lead during renovations and consult a professional for a cleanup plan if lead is found.

Awareness and Acknowledgment

Be Aware of the Risks: Many individuals fail to recognize the potential hazards of lead paint lurking within their residences. Whether you reside in a historic 1800s Victorian house or a modern apartment, if lead paint is present, you and your loved ones are at risk of lead poisoning.

Check National Poison Prevention Week Resources

To find out more about lead poisoning prevention, you can visit the following resources: 

CDC Website: The CDC provides comprehensive information on lead poisoning, including sources of exposure, health effects, and testing children for lead poisoning.

EPA’s Website: The Environmental Protection Agency offers valuable insights and resources on lead exposure and prevention.

HUD’s Website: The Department of Housing and Urban Development provides essential information and support for National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, including steps to create localized outreach and educational materials.

National Poison Prevention Week serves as a crucial reminder to understand the risks and take proactive measures to protect the health and well-being of our children. By being informed and proactive, we can mitigate the dangers of lead poisoning and create safer environments for our families.

70% of homes are estimated to have mold behind walls. (Harvard EDU)

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