Categories
Lead Soil and Water

Study Shows Lead Exposure Lowers Test Scores

A recent Duke University study of Connecticut school children found even small levels of lead exposure — less than the levels the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe — significantly reduced their test scores.

Researchers discovered that the greater the exposure to lead, the lower the Connecticut Mastery Scores. What is most alarming is that children with lead levels lower than the EPA’s established 10 microgram minimum were doing worse on tests than children who had never been exposed to lead. In addition, African-American children were more likely to experience lead poisoning from paint residue, dust or other sources by age 7 than other children. The Childen’s Environmental Health Initiative at Duke found similar results in a study it conducted two years ago of school children in North Carolina.

Duke researchers reviewed the cases of 35,000 Connecticut children whose blood tests showed lead exposure before age 7, then linked them to their fourth-grade reading and math scores on the 2008 and 2009 standardized Connecticut Mastery Tests.

Francesca Provenzano, health program supervisor for the Connecticut Department of Health told the Associated Press: “It’s compelling evidence. I think it provides even greater awareness to parents, medical providers and advocates that lead poisoning is a serious issue and prevention is key.”

Although lead poisoning cases have dropped significantly in recent years, the Duke study is a reminder that this toxic metal is still poisoning children. The only way to find out if your child has been poisoned by lead is through a blood test. The most accurate way to find out if your home or business contains lead is to have state licensed lead inspectors test the structure.

Lead was banned in paint in 1978. Unfortunately, structures built pre-1978 probably contain lead paint. Disturbing lead paint – even simply opening or closing a window – can send lead dust flying through the air. Lead dust is the leading cause of lead poisoning in the three most at-risk groups: children, pregnant women and pets. But everyone is at risk and needs to take precautions, especially during renovations.

The Centers for Disease Control says that a speck of lead dust, as small as a grain of sand, is enough to poison a child.

 

Categories
Mold

Mold in foreclosed homes: Great deal or deal-breaker?

As the number of foreclosed homes rises, the deals are plenty – but so are the potential problems. One of the fastest growing issues with foreclosed and bank-owned homes is mold.

When homes are occupied, a cycle of ventilation occurs and moisture gets sucked out, often times driven by heating and air conditioning. When homes are abandoned, however, the electricity is shut off so there is no circulation of air and no sump pump to push standing water out of the basement, which can cause major mold problems. The infestation of mold in bank-owned, vacant houses is growing throughout the country. Water leaks and flood problems go untreated, and can lead to mold issues within days.

If you can see mold or smell a musty odor in a home, you can be sure that there is a lot more mold that you cannot see hiding – especially behind the walls and under the floor boards and carpets. Because of this, any mold damage might require expensive remediation efforts to once again make the home habitable.

Since buyers purchase these homes in an as-is condition, they need to be aware of the potential problems and added-costs a mold infestation brings with it. Many bank-owned properties will not have documented histories about past conditions or treatments. Even if you make an offer on a house right away, banks often take months to process the paperwork and by then it’s too late and a small mold problem is now a full-house infestation that can cost thousands of dollars to fix. Once a residence is severely infested with mold, often times the floors and walls must be completely torn out to correct the problems.

Exposure to mold, especially toxic mold, can cause a variety of health problems. People suffering from asthma or allergies, including small children, infants, the elderly, and people with acute health problems are more susceptible to health problems related to mold infestation.

The safest way to proceed with a foreclosed home is to have a mold inspection done by a certified professional. They can tell you exactly what it will cost you to fix the problem, and then you can weigh your options and figure out if the house is still a good deal.

 

Categories
Gardening Lead Soil and Water

How Safe is Your Home Garden – Pt. 2

If you had your garden tested by a certified lead inspector and found that you do have elevated lead levels, you may be able to wash most of the airborne lead from your fruits and vegetables.

Studies have shown that lead does not accumulate in the fruiting part of the vegetable or fruit, such as corn, squash, beans, tomatoes, berries, peaches, strawberries, and apples. Higher concentrations are more likely to be found in leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach, and on the surface of root crops, like carrots, potatoes and beets.

Cleaning your produce is very important if there is any amount of lead in your garden. Here are some helpful hints:

  • Remove outer leaves from leafy crops.
  • Peel all root crops.
  • Wash all produce in water containing vinegar (1 TBSP vinegar, 1 ½ quarts water) or dish soap (1/2 TBSP dishwashing liquid, 1 ½ quarts water). This will wash away most of the airborne lead.

Lead dust is dangerous to everyone – especially children, pregnant women and pets. They may suffer brain damage, loss of IQ, learning disabilities, hearing loss, slowed growth, headaches, increased tendency to violence, nervous system and kidney damage, attention deficit disorder, poor muscle coordination, decreased muscle and bone growth, speech and language problems, increase delinquent and antisocial behaviors when the children grow older, reduced neonatal weight, reproductive problems, nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems, and muscle and joint pain. Another major problem associated with lead poisoning is high blood pressure and hypertension, which causes strokes and heart attacks, which can lead to death.

Lead doesn’t have to ruin your homegrown produce – take the proper precautions and enjoy.

 

Categories
Gardening Lead Soil and Water

How Safe is Your Home Garden?

Home-garden crop harvesting is soon upon us. But could your fresh fruit and vegetables make you sick? If your garden has elevated levels of lead in the soil, it sure could.

Test for Lead and Other Heavy Metals

Most people don’t think about testing their garden soil for lead before they plant fruits and vegetables. But lead in soil is a very common problem. Even the White House garden was found to have elevated levels of lead when the First Lady was about to plant vegetables there.

The main sources of lead contamination in soil and gardens are 1) lead-based paint chips and lead dust caused by renovation work in pre-1978 buildings, and 2) lead from auto emissions. The bottom line is whether you are in a big city or small town, you are susceptible to lead exposure. Paint chips can be ground into the soil or peel off of structures, and lead dust can be spread through the air from flaking paint on windows, building demolition, and even minor renovations. The closer a garden is to a street, the higher the risk of airborne lead particles from vehicle emissions.

Lead dust is dangerous to everyone – especially children, pregnant women and pets. They may suffer brain damage, loss of IQ, learning disabilities, slowed growth, headaches, increased tendency to violence, nervous system and kidney damage, attention deficit disorder, poor muscle coordination, speech and language problems, reduced neonatal weight, reproductive problems, nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems, and muscle and joint pain. Another major problem associated with lead poisoning is high blood pressure and hypertension, which causes strokes and heart attacks and can lead to death.

There are steps you can take to lessen the dangers. First and foremost, hire a certified lead inspector to test your garden to see if your soil contains lead. You may have nothing to worry about. On the other hand, if there’s lead contamination, you will be able to remedy that.

Other precautions you can take are:

– Select a site for your garden away from heavily trafficked streets and away from structures built pre-1978 (the year lead paint was banned).
– Erect a fence or hedge to help block movement of lead particles in the air.
– Wear protective gloves when working in soil that contains lead, and wash hands thoroughly when done.
– Keep children away from lead-tainted soil, and be sure they do not eat it.  Lead absorption through the intestines is five times greater in children than adults.
– Contain clothing and shoes in one place when you return to the house so that you do not track lead particles and dust throughout your home. Wash clothing as soon as possible, and keep children away from them, as they have a tendency to touch things and put their hands in their mouth.
– Soils high in organic matter and compost with pH levels between 6.5 and 7.0 do a better job of binding lead in the soil, preventing it from being absorbed by plants.

If the test reveals the levels just too high, you may want to consider remediation of the contaminated soil. There are several options, including soil removal, raising pH levels and adding organic matter, or mixing in new soil. A certified lead inspector can tell you which may be the best option for your situation.

Lead doesn’t have to ruin your fresh fare – just be aware of the potential hazards and know what you can do about it.

 

Categories
Lead

The Buzz on Lead Dust – Fact vs. Fiction?

We’ve been hearing things about lead dust lately. Alarmingly, a lot of what we are hearing is misinformation. We thought it was time to clear the air.

Statement 1: For lead exposure to be really bad, the actual dust must be truly airborne so that it can really get into your lungs.

FALSE! Of course you can get lead poisoning from breathing in lead dust. But when lead dust travels through the air, it settles in soil and water, and blows inside your home and even onto neighboring properties. If you touch something that has lead dust on it and then put your hand to your mouth, you can ingest it. This is especially dangerous for babies and children who crawl and play on the floor, and have their hands in their mouths and eyes all the time.

Statement 2: Flakes of paint will do a fine job of containing the lead dust.

FALSE! Let’s think about that logic – it makes no sense. Whether you grind your coffee beans or keep them whole, it’s still coffee. Even if lead is in a paint chip, it’s still lead. Every time a paint chip breaks, get stepped on, sanded, or even pressed into garbage bags, dangerous lead dust is released.

 

Statement 3: A speck of lead dust, as small as a grain of sand, can poison a child.

TRUE! The slightest bit of lead dust could make you sick. The amount of lead dust the EPA considers unsafe for kids is equal to a small packet of sweetener sprinkled over one-third of a football field. Think about what a minuscule amount that is!

 

Statement 4: If lead dust is flying outside, we are breathing in much less of it than we would indoors, therefore it is not dangerous.

FALSE! Unless you live in an airtight, hermetically sealed home that has no traffic in or out, this just is not feasible. Lead dust comes through windows, doors, chimneys, heating and cooling systems, and is tracked in on shoes, car tires, clothing, and more. If there is a fire in a nearby home, you can smell the burning scent inside your house. Lead dust particles are microscopic, and travel the same way. They are just as dangerous if they are being produced outside as they are inside. The same RRP (Renovation, Repair and Painting) precautions should be taken, inside or outside, when working around lead paint and lead dust.

If you have any questions about renovating lead paint or the dangers of lead dust, don’t assume. Find out for sure. Have a lead test done to ensure the safety of you, your family and your neighbors.

 

Categories
Lead

Seller says house has no lead: Should I test anyway?

Many people wonder whether they should have lead testing done when they are buying a new home. The answer is always yes. Even if the seller says that there is no lead, you should still have a lead test done. Why? Because the way the EPA rules are written, sellers and landlords must disclose known lead-based paint hazards. But if they have never done a lead test, then they can claim they didn’t know about it and are legally covered. Because of the language, there are loopholes. It’s sneaky, but it happens.

However, if a seller or landlord does know about any lead-paint hazards, there are certain rules they must follow:

• They must provide any available written reports to buyers or renters on the lead hazards that exist, including lead testing reports and lead abatement information.

• Sellers and landlords must give buyers and renters a pamphlet from the EPA, HUD and CSPC titled “Protect Your Family from Lead Paint in Your Home.”

• Notification and disclosure language for the existence of lead paint hazards must be included in sales contracts and leasing agreements.

• Sellers, lessors, and real estate agents share responsibility for ensuring compliance. Since they are liable and this is a buyers market, you may be able to negotiate the cost of lead testing into the price of the home. Buyers have a 10-day period (unless otherwise agreed upon) to conduct a lead-based paint inspection or risk assessment.

The most important thing is that you have your potential future home tested for lead, regardless of who pays for it. An independent lead inspector will perform the tests and provide you with an unbiased report and plan for what the next steps should be.

Categories
Lead

Do I Need A Lead Inspection?

Lead paint and lead dust both cause lead poisoning, especially in the three most at-risk groups: children, pregnant women and pets. But everyone is at risk and needs to take precautions. Lead testing will let you know if you have an elevated level of lead in your home. Hire a certified lead inspector to conduct a lead test – it could save a life.

lead paint testingLead poisoning can occur when lead is ingested or inhaled. Every year, over 500,000 children under the age of six get lead poisoning. 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.

lead paint removal

If your home or apartment was built before 1978, before the use of lead paint was outlawed, chances are there is lead-based paint somewhere. If the paint layers are sanded or chipped, lead dust will result. You are a prime candidate for lead poisoning. Unfortunately, lead dust can be invisible. That is why it is so important to have a lead inspection in your home, as well as have your family members tested for lead – it’s a simple blood test.

Where is lead found?

  • Deteriorated paint on and around windows, doors, stairs, railing, banisters, porches and fences
  • Dust on floors, sills, blankets, toys and furniture
  • Outdoors, in soil
  • Sandboxes
  • Swimming pool water
  • Swing sets
  • Outdoor toys
  • Athletic fields

If a lead test reveals that you have lead in your home, a lead abatement plan will help you to rectify the situation.

 

Categories
Lead

Bust Lead Dust

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 300,000 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.