Today, childhood lead poisoning is the most preventable environmental disease among young children, yet about half a million children in the United Sates have blood lead levels above the level at which Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends public health departments take action.
Ask yourself two simple questions to know if you and your family are at risk for lead poisoning:
- Was your house built before 1978?
- Is your house being repaired or painted?
If you answered yes to either one, there are a few important things to know about lead-based paint:
- lead-based house paint was banned in 1978
- childhood lead poisoning is STILL a major health problem in the United States
- lead dust is the most common cause of lead poisoning in children AND in adults
Lead affects almost every part of your body. Although lead hurts children most often, it can also be dangerous to adults. In children, lead can cause many problems, including growth and learning delays, low IQ, and behavior problems to name a few. In adults, lead can cause high blood pressure, memory loss, muscle and joint pain, and other health problems.
Lead can be found in many places both inside and outside a home. Lead may be in soil, water, and even cigarette smoke. The most common places to find lead dust around the home are windows, doors, and porches and it is caused by normal wear and tear. When homes built before 1978 are being remodeled and repaired, lead dust is released into the air when lead-based paint is disturbed by sawing, dry sanding, and drilling.
There are many ways to lower the risk of lead poisoning for your children, grandchildren, and yourself:
- wash hands after playing outside and before eating
- clean floors, doors, and windows including frames and sills at least weekly
- use warm water and an all-purpose cleaner to clean
- don’t dry sweep floors with a broom or use a dust mop
- if possible, use a vacuum cleaner with a hepa filter
- use a doormat or take off shoes before entering your home, so you don’t track in lead from dirt
- wash toys and stuffed animals often
The only way to be sure your home has lead hazards is to have it tested by a certified professional. If there are lead hazards in your home, lead repair and removal can be done by certified contractors who have special training to handle these hazards. If your household is considered to be low or moderate income, the Erie Redevelopment Authority may be able to assist with reducing lead hazards in your home. They can be contacted at http://www.redeveloperie.org
For further information on lead and lead poisoning, call the Pennsylvania Department of Health toll‑free Lead Information Line (1-800-440-LEAD) or call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).
You may also find information on lead poisoning online at www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead or www.epa.gov/lead.