Lead is harmful to health, especially for children. EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agree that there is no known safe level of lead in a child’s blood.
Sources of Lead at Home:
Older Homes and Buildings–If your home was built before 1978, there is a good chance it has lead-based paint. In 1978, the federal government banned consumer uses of lead-containing paint, but some states banned it even earlier. Lead from paint, including lead-contaminated dust, is one of the most common causes of lead poisoning.
Soil, Yards, and Playgrounds–Lead is naturally-occurring, and it can be found in high concentrations in some areas. In addition, soil, yards and playgrounds can become contaminated when exterior lead-based paint from houses or buildings flakes or peels and gets into the soil. Soil may also be contaminated from past use of leaded gasoline in cars, from industrial sources, or even from contaminated sites, including former lead smelters. Lead in soil can be ingested as a result of hand-to-mouth activity that is common for young children and from eating vegetables that may have taken up lead from soil in the garden. Lead in soil may also be inhaled if resuspended in the air, or tracked into your house thereby spreading the contamination.
Dust–Lead in household dust results from indoor sources such as old lead paint on surfaces that are frequently in motion or bump or rub together (such as window frames), deteriorating old lead paint on any surface, home repair activities, tracking lead contaminated soil from the outdoors into the indoor environment, or even from lead dust on clothing worn at a job site. Even in well-maintained homes, lead dust can form when lead-based paint is scraped, sanded or heated during home repair activities.
Products–Lead can be found in many common-use products including painted toys, furniture, and toy jewelry, cosmetics, and even food and drink containers. Food and liquids stored or served in lead crystal or lead-glazed pottery or porcelain can become contaminated because lead can leach from these containers into the food or liquid.
Drinking Water–Lead can enter drinking water through corrosion of plumbing materials, especially where the water has high acidity or low mineral content that corrodes pipes and fixtures. Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder. However, new homes are also at risk: even legally “lead-free” plumbing may contain up to eight percent lead.
How to Make Your Home Lead Safe:
- Check Your Home–If your home was built before 1978, have your home tested for lead and learn about potential lead hazards. Fix any hazards that you may have.
- Maintain Your Home’s Condition–It is very important to care for the lead-painted surfaces in your home. Lead-based paint in good condition is usually not harmful.
- Before You Renovate–Find a lead-safe certified renovation firm in your area. Renovations, repair jobs and paint jobs in pre-1978 homes and buildings can create significant amounts of lead-based paint dust. If your contractor will disturb lead-based paint while renovating, repairing or painting your home, he or she must be trained in lead-safe work practices.
- Test Your Home’s Drinking Water–Testing your home’s drinking water is the only way to confirm if lead is present. Most water systems test for lead at a certain number of homes as a regular part of water monitoring. These tests give a system-wide picture of whether or not corrosion is being controlled but do not reflect conditions at each home served by that water system. Since each home has different plumbing pipes and materials, test results are likely to be different for each home. You may want to test your water if your home has lead pipes or non-plastic plumbing was installed prior to 1986.
EPA recommends obtaining sampling bottles from and sending samples to a certified laboratory for analysis. White Water Associates of Amasa is our local certified lab and can be contacted for testing supplies and for sample analysis. Please call 906-822-7889.
For additional information, please visit our lead resources and information section.