Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes. Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children 6 years old and under are most at risk, because their bodies are growing quickly.
Research suggests that the primary sources of lead exposure for most children are:
- deteriorating lead-based paint
- lead contaminated dust
- lead contaminated residential soil
EPA is playing a major role in addressing these residential lead hazards. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 1978 there were 13.5 million children in the United States with elevated blood lead levels (i.e., 10Âµg/dl). By 2002, that number had dropped to 310,000 kids. While we still have a significant challenge, EPA is very proud of how federal, state, tribal, and private sector partners have coordinated efforts with the public to better protect our children.
Since the 1980’s, EPA and its federal partners have phased out lead in gasoline, reduced lead in drinking water, reduced lead in industrial air pollution, and banned or limited lead used in consumer products, including residential paint. States and municipalities have set up programs to identify and treat lead poisoned children and to rehabilitate deteriorated housing. Parents, too, have greatly helped to reduce lead exposures to their children by cleaning and maintaining homes, having their children’s blood lead levels checked, and promoting proper nutrition. The Agency’s Lead Awareness Program continues to work to protect human health and the environment against the dangers of lead by developing regulations, conducting research, and designing educational outreach efforts and materials.
Checking your family and home for lead – To reduce your child’s exposure to lead, get your child checked, have your home tested (especially if your home has paint in poor condition and was built before 1978), and fix any hazards you may have.
- Children’s blood lead levels tend to increase rapidly from 6 to 12 months of age, and tend to peak at 18 to 24 months of age.
- Consult your doctor for advice on testing your children. A simple blood test can detect high levels of lead. Blood tests are important for:
- Children at ages 1 and 2.
- Children and other family members who have been exposed to high levels of lead.
- Children who should be tested under your state or local health screening plan.
- Your doctor can explain what the test results mean and if more testing will be needed.
Your Home – You can get your home checked in one of two ways, or both:
- A paint inspection tells you the lead content of every different type of painted surface in your home. It won’t tell you whether the paint is a hazard or how you should deal with it.
- A risk assessment tells you if there are any sources of serious lead exposure (such as peeling paint and lead dust). It also tells you what actions to take to address these hazards.
Have qualified professionals do the work – There are standards in place for certifying lead-based paint professionals to ensure the work is done safely, reliably, and effectively. Trained professionals use a range of methods when checking your home, including:
- Visual inspection of paint condition and location.
- A portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) machine.
- Lab tests of paint samples.
- Surface dust tests.
Have a trained professional at Environmental Analytics test your home for lead. Call 520.290.6653 for more information.
Note: Home test kits for lead are available, but studies suggest that they are not always accurate. Consumers should not rely on these tests before doing renovations or to assure safety.
* The information provided above is referenced from: http://www.epa.gov/lead