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.



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.



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.


Do I Need A Lead Inspection?

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. Contact RTK Environmental Group to assist you with lead testing.



DANGER! What’s Coming In Your Open Windows?

As the weather gets warmer, we like to open our windows to let in the fresh air. Problem is, that air is not as fresh as you think. What you may not realize is if you live in a house constructed before 1978, simply opening a window could result in the release of toxic lead dust. Where does the dust come from? Paint that’s cracking. And the simple act of opening or closing the window grinds the paint (we’re talking about lead-based paint that was prevalent pre-1978) into powder, thus releasing lead dust in and around the window.

How is this harmful? Duke University researchers studying Connecticut school children discovered that those who had ingested even the smallest amounts of lead or lead dust years earlier did worse on fourth grade reading and math tests than children who had never been exposed at all. Furthermore, the study demonstrated that even levels of lead below the legal limit could have a detrimental effect on child development. Children with low-level exposure (below what has been established as “dangerous”) had lower scores than those with no exposure at all.

Lead paint was banned by the federal government in 1978, effectively lowering the percentage of children with high levels of lead in their blood from 88% in the 1970’s to 1.6% in 2005. Even so, it only takes a speck of lead dust the size of a grain of sand to poison a child, or a pet, or a pregnant woman, according to the Center for Disease Control.

What Can I Do?

1. Replace the old, original, lead painted windows in your house, which will eliminate a main source of lead dust, and in turn limit exposure to lead dust, thus significantly lowering the risk of lead poisoning.

2. If you suspect your house might contain lead paint, have your house tested for lead. If it is determined that your house is, in fact, contaminated, be sure to eradicate the source of lead dust.

3. Have your family tested for lead poisoning. A simple blood test can determine your level of exposure and indicate the level of treatment necessary.

These few easy steps can ensure that your home is a safe environment.