As the weather gets warmer, we like to open our windows to let in the fresh air. Problem is, that air is not as fresh as you think. What you may not realize is if you live in a house constructed before 1978, simply opening a window could result in the release of toxic lead dust. Where does the dust come from? Paint that’s cracking. And the simple act of opening or closing the window grinds the paint (we’re talking about lead-based paint that was prevalent pre-1978) into powder, thus releasing lead dust in and around the window.
How is this harmful? Duke University researchers studying Connecticut school children discovered that those who had ingested even the smallest amounts of lead or lead dust years earlier did worse on fourth grade reading and math tests than children who had never been exposed at all. Furthermore, the study demonstrated that even levels of lead below the legal limit could have a detrimental effect on child development. Children with low-level exposure (below what has been established as “dangerous”) had lower scores than those with no exposure at all.
Lead paint was banned by the federal government in 1978, effectively lowering the percentage of children with high levels of lead in their blood from 88% in the 1970’s to 1.6% in 2005. Even so, it only takes a speck of lead dust the size of a grain of sand to poison a child, or a pet, or a pregnant woman, according to the Center for Disease Control.
What Can I Do?
1. Replace the old, original, lead painted windows in your house, which will eliminate a main source of lead dust, and in turn limit exposure to lead dust, thus significantly lowering the risk of lead poisoning.
2. If you suspect your house might contain lead paint, have your house tested for lead. If it is determined that your house is, in fact, contaminated, be sure to eradicate the source of lead dust.
3. Have your family tested for lead poisoning. A simple blood test can determine your level of exposure and indicate the level of treatment necessary.
These few easy steps can ensure that your home is a safe environment.