Lead-based paint is the main reason why 500,000 children under the age of six are still being poisoned by lead annually, but is not the only source of lead that we may be exposed to every day.
The most common source of lead poisoning is lead-based paint, which is still found in most homes built before 1978, the year lead paint was banned. Any renovation or simple wear-and-tear of the paint around windows and doors and on stair treads disturbs the paint, sending lead dust flying through the air. The only way to really protect your children from lead paint poisoning is to have your home tested by a professional environmental testing firm.
That said, there are several other sources of lead in the home and your everyday environment which you need to be aware of:
Older plumbing fixtures
Faucets, lead pipes, and pipes connected with lead solder, in addition to well pumps made with brass or bronze parts that contain lead, can contaminate drinking water. Lead can leach into water at any temperature, but the amount is much greater when the water is warm or hot.
Lead-glazed ceramic ware, pottery and leaded crystal can contaminate food and liquids stored in them, especially for long periods of time.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that recent tests by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services revealed that artificial turf playing fields contain potentially unhealthy levels of lead dust. Artificial turf made of nylon or nylon/polyethylene blend fibers contain potentially dangerous levels of lead. Artificial turf made with only polyethylene fibers contain low levels of lead. This information is important if you have an outdoor carpet made of artificial turf or plan on buying one.
It is also important to keep in mind that even low levels of lead can poison children, pregnant women and their unborn babies, and pets.
Pottery making, working with stained glass, or refinishing furniture can expose you to lead hazards. Try not to work on these hobbies when children are present or if you are pregnant.
Lead has been found in some traditional folk medicines used by East Indian, Indian, Middle Eastern, West Asian and Hispanic cultures. Lead is added to these remedies to treat certain ailments, including arthritis, infertility, upset stomach, menstrual cramps and colic. For example, greta and azarcon (also known as alarcon, coral, luiga, maria luisa or ruedo) are traditional Hispanic remedies used to treat upset stomach, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, and used on the gums of teething babies. Both are fine orange powders that have a lead content as high as 90 percent.
To schedule a home lead test, click here.