We’ve been hearing things about lead dust lately. Alarmingly, a lot of what we are hearing is misinformation. We thought it was time to clear the air.
Statement 1: For lead exposure to be really bad, the actual dust must be truly airborne so that it can really get into your lungs.
FALSE! Of course you can get lead poisoning from breathing in lead dust. But when lead dust travels through the air, it settles in soil and water, and blows inside your home and even onto neighboring properties. If you touch something that has lead dust on it and then put your hand to your mouth, you can ingest it. This is especially dangerous for babies and children who crawl and play on the floor, and have their hands in their mouths and eyes all the time.
Statement 2: Flakes of paint will do a fine job of containing the lead dust.
FALSE! Let’s think about that logic – it makes no sense. Whether you grind your coffee beans or keep them whole, it’s still coffee. Even if lead is in a paint chip, it’s still lead. Every time a paint chip breaks, get stepped on, sanded, or even pressed into garbage bags, dangerous lead dust is released.
Statement 3: A speck of lead dust, as small as a grain of sand, can poison a child.
TRUE! The slightest bit of lead dust could make you sick. The amount of lead dust the EPA considers unsafe for kids is equal to a small packet of sweetener sprinkled over one-third of a football field. Think about what a miniscule amount that is!
Statement 4: If lead dust is flying outside, we are breathing in much less of it than we would indoors, therefore it is not dangerous.
FALSE! Unless you live in an airtight, hermetically sealed home that has no traffic in or out, this just is not feasible. Lead dust comes through windows, doors, chimneys, heating and cooling systems, and is tracked in on shoes, car tires, clothing, and more. If there is a fire in a nearby home, you can smell the burning scent inside your house. Lead dust particles are microscopic, and travel the same way. They are just as dangerous if they are being produced outside as they are inside. The same RRP (Renovation, Repair and Painting) precautions should be taken, inside or outside, when working around lead paint and lead dust.
If you have any questions about renovating lead paint or the dangers of lead dust, don’t assume. Find out for sure. Have a lead test done to ensure the safety of you, your family and your neighbors.