Categories
Lead

Before You Buy A Home, Test for Lead

lead testing home rentalWe get a lot of inquiries from people in the market to purchase a new home about whether or not they should have the home tested for lead. Our answer? Absolutely. Then we are hit with the follow-up question – “But the seller says there is no lead. Should we still have it tested?” The answer is still yes.

Here’s why:

Lead lawsThe way the EPA rules are written, sellers and landlords must disclose known lead-based paint hazards. “Known” being the key word here. Conveniently, if they have never done a lead test, then they can say that they didn’t know that there was lead in the home, and are covered from a legal standpoint. Quite simply, there are loopholes because of the language. Yes – it’s sneaky, but it happens all too often.

If, on the other hand, a landlord or seller does know about pre-existing lead-paint hazards, there are specific rules they need to follow:

  • Provide any available written reports to buyers or renters on the lead hazards that Lead Disclosure Home Buyerexist, including lead testing reports and lead abatement information.
  • Buyers and renters must be given a pamphlet from the EPA, HUD and CSPC titled “Protect Your Family from Lead Paint in Your Home,” from the seller, landlord, or agent.
  • The sales contracts and leasing agreements must contain notification and disclosure language for the existence of lead paint hazards.
  • Sellers, lessors, and real estate agents share the responsibility of ensuring Lead Testing real estatecompliance, and they are all potentially liable. You may be able to negotiate the cost of lead testing into the price of the home, depending on the market in your area. Buyers generally have a 10-day period (unless otherwise agreed upon) to conduct a lead-based paint inspection or risk assessment.

Regardless of who pays for it, the most important thing is that you have your potential future home tested for lead. Don’t risk the safety and health of your family to save a few bucks. An independent lead inspector, like RTK Environmental Group, will perform the tests and provide you with an unbiased report, making sure that you have all the facts before you make such a huge purchasing decision.

Categories
Healthy Home Lead

Lead Hazards Surround Us: It Ain’t Just Paint

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.

lead-testing-new-yorkThe 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:

dangerous plumbingOlder 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 lead poisoning liquids stored in them, especially for long periods of time.

Artificial turf

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that recent tests by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior toxic artificial turfServices 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.

Hobbieslead paint warning furniture

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.

Folk medicine

Lead has been found in some traditional folk medicines used by East Indian, Indian, lead poisoningMiddle 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.

Categories
Testing vs. Remediation

Are All Environmental Testing Companies the Same?

You had your home tested for environmental toxins and now you’ve got the results. Now, you’re thinking, you know if you have a problem and how to fix it.

confusing environmental reportBut what if your mold inspection results were delivered as raw data—a jumble of undecipherable numbers and measurements? You don’t need a degree in environmental science to know that’s not helpful to you as mold reportinga homeowner. Unfortunately, we hear from customers all too often who have used other environmental testing services that they’ve found themselves having to interpret their test results.

What should you expect from an environmental testing company?

Confused GuyInspectors should provide a clear explanation upfront of their process and all related fees. If you are being promised the cheapest services, you probably are not getting the best results. And you may find yourself surprised when your bill includes expenses related to sampling supplies and laboratory fees that you didn’t even know about.

If, for example, you had a mold inspection and received a report indicating the presence of mold in Clear as mudyour home, how would you know the mold count is cause for concern? What are acceptable levels of Cladosporium, Penicillium, or Aspergillus? After all, all homes have some mold in them—mold spores are in the air, on your countertops and furniture. You shouldn’t have to consult a chart to know whether your mold is alarming or okay to leave untreated.

Question MarkAccording to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), standards for what is an “acceptable, tolerable or normal” quantity of mold have not been established. Officials recommend you ask your environmental inspector who will interpret the test results, and what recommendations they’ll make based on the sampling. What’s more, the recommendations should take into consideration the building’s characteristics and the factors that led to the current conditions, the CDC notes.

At RTK Environmental group, we’ll do a thorough examination of your home and property for the successful mold testpresence of environmental toxins. We’ll tell you about our process, including an explanation of costs, and provide you with a clear interpretation of test results. Because we don’t do remediation, you can be sure our assessment is accurate and unbiased. We can also return for final testing to ensure the job was done right.

Categories
Health Lead

New Lead Standards Spark Confusion, Concern Among Parents

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took a monumental step in protecting children from lead poisoning by cutting in half the “action level” of lead in the blood stream. Now, any child (age 1 – 5) with more than 5 micrograms per deciliter of lead in the blood is considered at risk.

Although almost 400,000 more children are now considered lead poisoned in the U.S., it means that early action will help us prevent serious health problems and save lives. Even small levels of lead exposure can irreversibly influence children’s development, from ADHD and autism to brain damage and lower IQ.

The other part of the announcement drew harsh criticism –the federal funding for lead poisoning was slashed 94% this year by Congress. So what does that mean for parents, and how are we supposed to protect our kids with limited funding?

Unfortunately, the burden is on us and we need to take action. Here are a few important tips:

1. Prevention is the key – test the house.

Once a child has lead poisoning, it becomes expensive and dangerous. Have your home tested by a certified independent inspector for lead paint. If you find that your home contains lead paint, they will provide you with a comprehensive abatement plan to remove the lead before it becomes a health issue.

2. Have your children tested for lead.

Only about 53% of pediatricians will do a routine lead test at age one. (Read more here on pediatricians and lead testing.) As a rule of thumb, all children should be tested at age one, and again at age two. If you live in a high-risk area, it may be more often. If you are unsure if your doctor performs the blood test routinely, ask and request that it be done.

3. Know the sources of lead poisoning.

Lead paint that is ingested is the primary cause of lead poisoning. It can be in the form of lead paint chips or lead dust released from window frames and doors, which gets into the air, water, soil, and on the floor. Lead dust can also be found on playground equipment and toys. Other sources of lead are older pipes, stained glass, toys, pottery glazes, leaded crystal, jewelry, antiques, folk remedies, food cans, and more.

To download the EPA’s brochure “Lead in Your Home: A Parent’s Reference Guide” click here.

To schedule a lead inspection, click here.

Categories
Indoor Air Quality & Radon Lead

It’s Spring – Let the Hammering Begin!

Spring is here, which means the start of the home remodeling season. But if you live in a pre-1978 built home, your first call — before you call a contractor — should be to an environmental testing company to have your home tested for lead.

What’s the significance of the 1978 date? That was the year lead paint was removed from interior paints in the United States. And why should you care? Because annually, 34 years after lead paint was banned, more than 400,000 children are still being poisoned by the paint that remains. And this is not just an inner-city problem. Lead poisoning knows no economic bounds.

Unless you know where lead is lurking, your contractor can unknowingly release toxic lead dust into the air. And if a professional lead inspection firm finds lead remnants in your home, be sure your contractor is certified in lead-safe work practices.

Under a recent Renovation, Repair, and Paint rule (RRP) enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) almost two years ago, all work performed on painted surfaces in a pre-1978 built home must follow a strict protocol.

  1. The company that does your work – from a simple painting job to a full-house renovation – must be a certified in lead-safe work practices by the Environmental Protection Agency. Do not let a tradesperson tell you certification is not needed. It is. Uncertified tradespeople should not be working in an environment that contains lead paint, and if caught, face a stiff fine and will be forced to stop work in your home.
  2. The work area in a leaded environment needs to be sealed off from the remainder of the living space. At the end of the day, the contractor is required to thoroughly clean the area in accordance with EPA guidelines.
  3. Certified tradespeople have to document the work they perform and file a report at the end of the project.

Once the work is performed, the next and very important step is to have the environmental testing firm conduct a second lead test to be sure your home is 100 percent lead free.

Click here to schedule a lead test.

Tomorrow: Tips for do-it-yourself homeowners ready to tackle their own home renovations.

 

Categories
Healthy Home Lead

Lead Hazards in the Home: It Ain’t Just Paint

Lead-based paint is the main reason why 500,000 children are still being poisoned by lead annually. The only way to really protect your children from lead poisoning is to have your home tested by a professional environmental testing firm.

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.

But other sources of lead abound in the home:

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.

Artificial turf

The Centers for Disease Control and Protection 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.

Hobbies

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.

Folk medicine

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.

 

Categories
Healthy Home Lead

Lead-Tainted Products: Not Child’s Play

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.

 

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
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

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.