Toxic levels of lead in homes is still an ongoing health hazard, especially for homeowners or renters who live in a home or building that was built before 1978. There’s a really good chance that there’s lead-based paint on the walls. The paint breaks down over time due to cracking or activities that can stir paint dust into the air. Simple things like opening and closing doors, windows or cabinetry in a home is enough to jar lead dust into the air.
Lead can be found in other areas of the home, such as the water supply, some children’s toys and from lead-contaminated soil that gets tracked into a home.
Effects of Lead Poisoning
Exposure to lead can lead to kidney damage, seizures, nerve and brain damage and sometimes death. Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of lead exposure which can cause neurological problems and even lowered IQ scores.
How to Find Out if You Have Lead in Your Home
As mentioned earlier, if your home was built before 1978, most likely lead paint was used in the interior, unless it has been fully renovated. If you’re buying or renovating an older home, it’s best to secure a certified renovation and lead dust sampling technician firm to fully check the home before remodeling. These firms are certified by the EPA to either evaluate for lead or to conduct proper renovation in homes that contain lead in building materials. This is especially important when dealing with lead-based paints.
You will want to also have the water tested if a home is built before 1986 since these homes typically have pipes, fixtures and solder that contain lead. Even newer homes may have some lead in plumbing materials that claim to be “lead-free”. Testing your water for contamination is always a good idea anyway.
You can conduct a water test yourself by picking up a lead testing kit in most home improvement stores. Simply send the samples to a certified lab that will provide you with the test results.
It’s always a good idea to make certain your home is lead free even when it comes to municipal water. Just because it’s city water, doesn’t always mean it’s safe or monitored correctly for contaminants, as proven by the Flint Michigan debacle in 2016.
As a general precaution, many people simply opt to add an effective water purification system to their home for additional water safety.
How to Keep Lead out of Your Home
Here’s some practical tips to help protect your family from lead poisoning:
- Remove your shoes at the door and wipe clean; wash hands after entering
- Use wet sponge to wipe up any paint dust or chips you find in an older home
- Wash children’s toys, bottles and pacifiers often to keep clean
- Keep your home clean and free from dust
- Always hire contractors who use construction methods required by law to renovate an older home that may contain lead building materials
- Consider adding a water purification system to your home for healthier water
Newer homes built after the 1990’s tend to have less lead contamination, but always take sensible precautions to keep your home healthy and lead free.