Protect Your Children By Following These Preventive Do’s and Don’ts
Spread the Word – National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is October 25th – 31th
Although lead poisoning is the #1 preventable disease in U.S. children, every year, over 500,000 children between the ages of 1 -5 are diagnosed with lead poisoning. Incredibly, this figure does not include the number of children between the ages of six and eighteen that already suffer from lead poisoning. In addition, many other children have not yet been diagnosed. About 3.6 million American households have children under 6
years of age who live in homes with lead exposure hazards.
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.
’Tis the season to be careful to avoid buying toys and gifts containing lead contaminants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a holiday alert about the potential lead hazards in toys and products used by children, including jewelry, handbags, makeup, clothing, and even candy.
Possible lead contaminants in toys, according to the CDC include:
Paint: Lead was banned in the United States in 1978, on products marketed to children (as well as in dishes, cookware, and house paint). Unfortunately, other countries still use lead, so it can be found on imported toys. (P.S.: Lead may also be found on toys made in the United States before the ban, a fact to keep in mind when buying antique toys or tag-sale finds, or when accepting older toys passed down in families.)
Plastic: While regulated, the use of lead in plastics has not been banned in the United States. Lead is used to soften and stabilize the plastic, but when the plastic is exposed to sunlight, air, and detergents, the plastic breaks down and may leech lead as dust.
Playing with lead-tainted toys might disturb lead dust, which can be released into the air and onto a child’s hands. Lead can also be found in zippers, make-up items, jewelry, keys, wallets, and other products that are marketed to kids. Since children often put toys – and their fingers– into their mouths, they could be actually eating toxic lead dust.
If you suspect your child has played with a toy or product that contains lead, have the child’s blood tested for lead levels. In addition, since lead dust could be disturbed when the child plays with the toy, have your home tested for lead by an environmental testing company. According to the CDC, a speck of lead dust as small as a grain of sand can poison a child.
Did you know that lead dust is more dangerous than lead paint itself? According to the Center for Disease Control, a speck of lead dust, equal to a grain of sand, is enough to poison a child. Lead dust is the most common form of lead poisoning. If you do have lead in your home, you will need a lead abatement plan.
The only way to know, however, is to have lead testing done.
What is Lead Dust?
Lead dust forms when lead paint is chipped away or sanded. Most houses built before 1978, when it was banned, contain lead paint. Contrary to what most people think, a child doesn’t have to eat paint chips to get lead poisoning. Microscopic lead dust can be released into the air by simply raising and lowering a window painted with lead paint. The friction between the painted window sash and the painted window frame grinds the paint and generates toxic lead-containing dust. Lead dust is invisible, travels through the air, and is very harmful when inhaled.
Every year, over 500,000 children under the age of six get lead poisoning. Pregnant woman and pets are also in high-risk groups. Lead poisoning causes brain damage, lower IQ, ADD, headaches, reduced neonatal weight, damage to the brain and nervous system, behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, headaches, and sometime seizures, coma and even death.
Before doing any work in your home, have a certified lead inspector conduct a lead test to see if you are at risk. When hiring renovators or contractors, be sure that they are EPA certified in RRP (Renovation, Repair and Painting) and provide a lead-safe work practice. Also, when cleaning lead dust on your own, be sure to follow the proper precautions.