When most people talk about lead dust poisoning, they emphasize the stunning number of children — 500,000 children younger than 6 — who are diagnosed with lead poisoning each year.
But adults can be poisoned, too.
The problem is that adults aren’t screened for lead poisoning, and most have no idea that their ailments are caused by exposure to lead dust. Last week, a 50-year-old man posted his recent “ah-ha moment” on JustAnswer.com, a question and answer Web site that is monitored by doctors throughout the United States.
The man’s epiphany occurred when he attended a class on lead awareness. In the late 1980s through the 1990s, the man was a sandblaster who was exposed to lead paint and dust numerous times. Back then, protective clothing was often never used, especially during warm weather. Since then, he has suffered from high blood pressure, bowel pain with diverticulitis, memory and vision loss, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and ringing in his left ear.
His question to Just Answer’s medical team: “Were my illnesses caused by lead dust poisoning?” The answer was a resounding yes, that all his illnesses could be directly linked to lead dust poisoning.
What makes this man’s question so poignant is that since 1987, not one of his many doctors made the connection between his medical issues and lead dust poisoning caused by his job. And just like children, the damage lead dust poisoning caused him is irreversible.
In the case of this man, his lead poisoning is directly traced to his exposure to lead-based paint, which is still present in most homes built before 1978, the year lead paint was banned. If you live in a pre-1978 built home, know that simply opening and closing a window or door can disturb lead-based paint. If you have never had your home tested for lead paint, it is wise to do so by a professional environmental testing company that will be able to pinpoint where your lead paint is lurking.
If you are planning any renovation, from a simple painting job to a major renovation, have your home tested for lead. Additionally, hire tradespeople certified in lead-safe work practices under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renovation, Repair & Painting rule.