Protect your family from lead poisoning with this expert advice

Lead poisoning is the #1 preventable childhood disease in the US, yet many of us think we are not at risk. It can happen to anyone exposed to deteriorating or disturbed lead paint or lead dust, the leading cause of lead poisoning. Suburban, owner occupied homes are now the main cause of lead poisoning in the US, mainly from lead dust released from window sills and improper renovations. Lead poisoning causes autism, ADHD, brain damage, violent tendencies, and more. Read to find out what you can do to prevent lead poisoning.


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  • understand the facts about lead paint
  • know the dangers of lead paint and lead poisoning
  • have your home tested for lead paint, especially if it was built before 1978
  • know the sources of lead poisoning
  • take proper precautions when renovating

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  • assume lead poisoning cannot happen to you
  • ever let an unlicensed contractor work on your home, especially if it contains lead paint
  • forget to have your soil and water tested for lead
  • assume your pediatrician tests your child for lead
  • become a statistic

[publishpress_authors_data]'s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do understand the facts about lead paint

Lead was an additive in residential paint until 1978. When disturbed, whether from cracking paint, renovation, or simply opening and closing windows painted with lead-based paint, it is highly toxic and dangerous to your health. Lead paint and lead dust, which forms when lead paint is chipped away or sanded, both cause lead poisoning.

Contrary to what most people think, a child doesn’t have to eat paint chips to get lead poisoning. Lead dust is invisible, travels through the air, and is very harmful when inhaled. The three most at-risk groups are children, pregnant women and pets, but everyone is at risk and needs to take precautions. 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.

Do know the dangers of lead paint and lead poisoning

Lead poisoning is the only preventable childhood disease, yet approximately half a million children under the age of six are diagnosed with lead poisoning in the U.S. annually. Lead poisoning causes brain damage, autism, lower IQ, ADD, headaches, reduced neonatal weight, damage to the brain and nervous system, violent behavior, learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, headaches, and sometime seizures, coma and even death. Once the damage is done, it is permanent and irreversible.

Do have your home tested for lead paint, especially if it was built before 1978

Whether you are planning to renovate or are moving into a new home, have your home tested for lead paint to see if you and your family are at risk. Hire an independent, certified testing company that only conducts testing and does not do remediation, as that is a major conflict of interest. Also, make sure the inspector uses X-ray fluorescence (XRF) lead-paint testing to identify the amount of lead present in painted or sealed surface in your home. This can identify underlying lead paint layers below what is on the surface without digging into your walls.

When buying a home, have it tested for lead, even if the seller says that there is no lead. 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.

Do 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, pools, and toys. Other sources of lead are older pipes and plumbing fixtures, stained glass, toys, pottery glazes, leaded crystal, jewelry, antiques, folk remedies, food cans, artificial turf, and more.

Do take proper precautions when renovating

Before you start any renovation, whether you hire a contractor or do-it-yourself, have your home tested to see if and where you have lead paint. If your home was built before 1978, chances are that there is lead somewhere. And unless you know where the lead is lurking, you or your contractor can unknowingly release toxic lead dust into the air. If a professional lead inspection firm finds lead remnants in your home, you will likely need a lead abatement plan. 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.

[publishpress_authors_data]'s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not assume lead poisoning cannot happen to you

Lead poisoning does not discriminate. Many people believe that lead poisoning occurs only in inner city housing, yet it is just as prevalent in middle-class and upscale neighborhoods across the country. Unfortunately, in suburban and rural areas, most people do not even consider the lead paint dangers that may be in their homes. Whether you live in an 1800’s Victorian mansion or a studio apartment in a big city, if your home contains lead paint, you and your family are susceptible to lead poisoning.

Do not ever let an unlicensed contractor work on your home, especially if it contains lead paint

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 (EPA). Do not let a tradesperson tell you certification is not needed. It is.

Under the EPA’s Renovation, Repair, and Paint rule (RRP), all work performed on painted surfaces in a pre-1978 built home must follow a strict protocol. 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. 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.

Do not forget to have your soil and water tested for 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. 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, which then falls onto your yard. Lead can also leach into water through pipes and groundwater.

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.

Do not assume your pediatrician tests your child for lead

In some states, lead screening for children under the age of three is mandatory. But in most, it is left at the discretion of the pediatrician. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, testing for lead poisoning often depends on where you live. The best way for you to know if you child has been tested for lead poisoning is to ask your pediatrician. If your doctor does not automatically test for lead, ask that it be done. It’s a simple blood test and could save your child’s life.

Do not become a statistic

Lead Poisoning is the #1 preventable childhood disease in the United States. Nobody needs to get lead poisoning. By having your environment tested for lead paint – whether home, school, or work – you can find out if lead is present and take the proper precautions and steps to have it removed. Children can easily ingest household lead because it can be present all around them – in paint chips, tap water, dust and the soil. The younger the child, the more damage lead poisoning can do. If the source of the lead is not determined and removed, the poisoning will continue.


Before you risk exposing your family to lead, find out if a hazard exists by following this expert advice. Have your home or business tested for lead paint to avoid the devastating effects of lead poisoning.

Lead is a toxic metal that may cause a range of health effects in both children and adults, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities to seizures and death. Many houses and apartments built before 1978, when lead paint was banned for residential use, still have lead paint on many surfaces.

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