lead hazard

We often blog about lead-based paint, and how improperly remodeling a pre-1978 built home can create lead dust and easily poison a child. But there are numerous other ways lead can enter a home. Today, we look at the sources — in addition to lead paint — that most affect children. Tomorrow, we look at lead from the whole-house perspective.

Toys

Lead is still widely used in other countries, and every now and then — even with our strict consumer-protection laws banning lead in toys — imported toys containing lead are found in the United States. To reduce these risks, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issues recalls of toys containing lead, and thankfully these recalls are quickly reported in the media. Unfortunately, if the child has been playing with the toy for even a day, he or she might be poisoned by lead.

More bad news: Lead in plastics has not been banned, and is often used in toys to soften the plastic and make it more flexible. But when plastic is exposed to substances such as sunlight, air, and detergents, the chemical bond between the lead and plastics breaks down and forms lead dust.

And be wary of painted toys, passed down through the generations. If made before 1978, there is a good chance there is lead in the paint. Do not let your children play with these toys.

Toy jewelry

In 2006 a 6-year-old child died after swallowing a heart-shaped metallic charm containing lead, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Just wearing the jewelry will not cause a child’s blood lead level to spike into the dangerous range, but why take the chance? A speck of lead dust as small as a grain of sand can poison a child. And we all know that children, especially those younger than 6 who are at the greatest risk for lead poisoning, love to put objects in their mouths.

The CDC asks parents to search their children’s toys and jewelry boxes for metal jewelry and throw it all away.

Candy

Lead has been found in candy imported from Mexico. Certain candy ingredients, specifically chili powder and tamarind, may be a source of lead exposure. In addition, lead may get into the candy during manufacturer from improper handling processes, and the ink used on the candy wrappers contains lead, and often leaches into the candy.

If you would like to schedule a home lead inspection, click here.