If you’ve been paying attention to the water issues going on in Flint, Michigan, you might be a little concerned about the possibility of lead poisoning in your own home. While the issues that are happening in Flint are unlikely to happen in other communities in the country, there is still the danger of lead poisoning, especially in older homes, which often contain lead paint.
Lead is dangerous, not just to adults, but also to children. Lead has been used widely for household products, from paint, to batteries, to ceramics, to plumbing, to cosmetics and beyond. While many states have instituted regulations to reduce this hazardous mineral and its effects, there are still serious issues in older homes that need to be addressed. This is not something that should be taken lightly. Most homes built before 1980 were likely painted with paint that contained lead. About a quarter of all homes built in between 1960 and 1977 still contain lead paint. Up to 87% of homes built before 1960 are likely to contain lead paint.
If the paint has been well-maintained and is not peeling or chipping, it is probably not dangerous. If it is cracking, is moldy, or has started to peel, this is an issue that should be addressed immediately.
Children are the most affected by lead. Their systems absorb more of the lead that enters them and they are more likely to be contaminated by lead, because they are more likely to put dangerous things in their mouths. Lead can lead to behavioral issues, learning disabilities, anemia, neurological disorders, slow development, and more—and not just in children. Adults who are exposed to lead are more likely to have cardiovascular and kidney issues.
If you are concerned that your child might have been exposed to lead, ask your doctor about doing a blood test. If you want to lower the risk of exposure in your home, you can:
- Survey your home for areas where the paint might be compromised.
- Dust regularly and clean your home thoroughly.
- Clean your paint and surrounding areas with a wet rag to get rid of dust.
- Regularly wash toys, bottles, pacifiers, and hands of your children.
- Teach your kids to wash their hands after coming in from playing outside.