Categories
Healthy Home Lead

Is Your Artificial Christmas Tree Toxic?

Is Your Artificial Christmas Tree Toxic?

Many people buy artificial Christmas trees to avoid the mess of dropped needles spread throughout their homes. Unfortunately, that pristine artificial tree could be spreading something you can’t see: toxic lead dust.

Most artificial trees are manufactured in China and made from two items: PVC, a petroleum-based plastic, and lead, used to stabilize PVC. The lead in the “greens” breaks down into lead dust, which is released into the air, poisoning everyone, but especially children younger than six.

Many people are unaware of a 2002 study conducted at the University of North Carolina at Asheville that found three out of four artificial trees tested contained lead – that translates to 50 million American households with a PVC-based artificial tree. Most Americans have no idea that there is lead in artificial trees; only California mandates a lead warning label on every box containing an artificial tree. This applies to ornaments and decorations as well.

If you or a loved one has an artificial tree, follow the advice of the researchers at UNC Asheville:

  • Keep children and pets away from the tree; do not allow them to touch it.
  • If you touch the tree, wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face or handling food.
  • Do not vacuum dust from under the tree. Vacuuming could spread invisible, poisonous lead dust through the air. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that a speck of lead dust, as small as a grain of sand, can poison a child.
  • Keep gifts away from the tree, to keep lead dust from coating the wrapping.

What else can you do? Buy a tree Made in America. Check out this article for tips on artificial tree buying.

Lead poisoning can cause irreversible brain and nervous system damage in children, as well as autism-like symptoms, ADD/ADHD, lower IQ scores, violent behavior, and seizures, among other things. If there’s a possibility lead dust is released in your home or on your property, you should have your home tested for lead by an environmental testing company.

Click here  for more information or to schedule an appointment to have your home tested for lead.

Categories
Lead

Holiday Toys May Contain Toxic Levels of Lead

Products contain lead

’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 lead poisoningchildren (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 lead in costumer jewelryfound 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 safe toyscould 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.

So remember, it’s buyer beware when you purchase toys and products for your youngsters. You can find a list of all recalled child products, including toys, on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Web site. And for more information on the the dangerous toys for 2013, click here to read the ‘Trouble in Toyland’ 2013 Report from Public Interest Research Group.

Categories
Gardening Lead Soil and Water

Are You Putting Toxic Food In Your Tummy?

The gardener’s gloves are on. The seeds are ready. But are the soil and water are safe and toxin-free? Before you plant those vegetable gardens, you need to find out. Otherwise, you could be eating a harmful harvest in the summer and fall.

Lead in soil is a very common problem, especially if you live in a pre-1978 built home or in a neighborhood of older homes. So how does lead get in your soil? When your older home’s exterior is painted, the first step is sanding, which spews lead dust through the air, landing on your property. Flaking paint chips can also be ground into the soil, or in some cases, paint can peel right off the home. Also, if the home’s interior is painted and sanded, often windows are left open to disburse the dust. And guess where that lead dust falls? In your yard.

The water you use to soak the garden also may contain contaminants from a variety of sources including an aging water distribution system, age and the type of pipes in your home, soil pollution from fertilizer and nitrates, and groundwater elements. Certain chemicals can have devastating effects on our health, even in miniscule concentrations. Contaminated water can cause severe kidney damage; intestinal lesions; sensory, neurological, and respiratory damage; blue-baby syndrome; and shortness of breath.

There are steps you can take to lessen these dangers. Most importantly, hire a certified environmental inspector to test your soil and water for contaminants. You may be free of toxins. But then again, you may find that you have true health hazards.

Some other steps you can take:

  • Position the garden as far away as possible from any pre-1978 built homes.
  • Use a garden hose filter to lessen impurities.
  • Consider bed gardening, which raises the garden above soil level. And then fill with clean garden soil.
  • Erect a fence or a hedge to act as a buffer against any blowing lead dust.
  • Keep children away from any lead-tainted soil. Never let children eat the soil.
  • Wear protective clothing when gardening. Remove your clothes before entering your home, and place them in a plastic bag. The next stop is your washing machine. Tracking lead dust into a home is a common way for lead to enter a home.
  • 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 of lead in your soil are 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.

Click here to schedule a test of your soil and water.

 

Categories
Gardening Healthy Home Lead Soil and Water

Go Outside & Play – But This Time, in Clean Dirt!

How safe are your children when they are playing outside in your yard? Maybe not safe enough.

Consider this: You probably take great safety precautions like making your kids wear bike helmets and sunscreen. But have you checked your soil and pool water for lead dust?

Most people have no idea that lead dust – that is dust that usually comes from old paint that is disturbed by renovation work (sanding and scraping; opening and closing windows); the dust flies through the air and lands in the yard. Since spending time outdoors should be a healthy activity, it pays to find out if the soil is “clean” – free from lead. Soil with high lead levels can be a danger, though – especially to kids. Children can actually be poisoned from lead dust, which could lead to autism-like symptoms, ADD, violent behavior, reduced IQ and a host of other issues. Lead dust can also be tracked inside on people’s shoes.

It can also travel from your neighbors’ renovations to your property if they are not following proper Lead Safe work practices. Lead dust has also been found in high concentrations in pool water.

If you are not sure about the soil your child is playing in, have your soil and water tested for lead and other toxins by a professional. Here are some other tips to minimize risk:

– Children and adults should wash their hands before and after playing or working outside;

– Change clothing after playing or working in the yard or garden;

– Create a safe play area for your child – a sandbox with clean sand and a cover is ideal if you think you may have lead dust around your home or neighborhood;

– Wash any toys that were used in dirt that may contain lead dust with soap and water;

– Any bare soil outside your home should be covered with sod, mulch, or gravel to reduce the hazard;

– Cover your pool when it is not in use;

– If lead levels are found to be high in your yard, tainted soil may actually need to be removed and clean soil may need to be brought in;

– A floor mat inside the door can help reduce lead dust from being tracked in;

– Take your shoes off when you enter your house and leave them at the door.

Spring is a wonderful time to enjoy the outdoors. Be sure to do it safely!

 

 

 

Categories
Gardening Soil and Water

Soil Testing: The First Step in Preparing your Spring Garden

Right about now, visions of gorgeous flowers and a bountiful crop of vegetables are dancing in gardeners’ heads.

It’s almost time to start turning over the garden soil. But have you ever thought about soil testing to be sure your soil is free of lead? Lead in soil is a very common problem, especially if you live in a pre-1978 built home or in a neighborhood of older homes.

So how does lead get in your soil? When your older home’s exterior is painted, the first step is sanding, which spews lead dust through the air, landing on your property. Flaking paint chips can also be ground into the soil, or in some cases, paint can peel right off the home. Also, if the home’s interior is painted and sanded, often windows are left open to disburse the dust. And guess where that lead dust falls? In your yard.

More than 500,000 children are poisoned each year by lead.

There are steps you can take to lessen the dangers of lead poisoning. Most importantly, hire a certified lead inspector to test your garden to see if your soil contains lead. Your garden may be lead free. But then again, it might not be. Is it worth poisoning your children?

Some other steps you can take:

  • Position the garden as far away as possible from any pre-1978 built homes.
  • Consider bed gardening, which raises the garden above soil level. And then fill with clean garden soil.
  • Erect a fence or a hedge to act as a buffer against any blowing lead dust.
  • Keep children away from any lead-tainted soil. Never let children eat the soil.
  • Wear protective clothing when gardening. Remove your clothes before entering your home, and place them in a plastic bag. The next stop is your washing machine. Tracking lead dust into a home is a common way for lead to enter a home.
  • 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 of lead in your soil are 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.

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 and apples. It’s the leafy vegetables and the surface of root crops such as carrots, beets and potatoes where the higher concentrations of lead are found. A good practice with all produce — whether you grew it yourself or bought it at the market — is to prepare and wash it well. Some tips:

  • Remove outer leaves from leafy crops.
  • Peel all root crops.
  • Wash all produce in mixture of 1 tablespoon of vinegar mixed into 1½ quarts water, which washes away most of the lead, in addition to other impurities.

Click here to schedule a lead test of your soil.

 

Categories
Lead

Toxic Tannenbaum

Many people buy artificial Christmas trees to avoid the mess of dropped needles spread throughout their homes. Unfortunately, that pristine artificial tree could be spreading something you can’t see: toxic lead dust.

Categories
Lead

It’s Time to 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 dustLead 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.

how do you get lead poisoning

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.