Live in an older home? Check for lead poisoning

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Homes built before 1986 are likely to have been constructed with pipes that contain lead. Most of these pipes were coated with another material, but over time, as water corrodes and wears away at the interior of the pipes, the lead is exposed and can seep into the water. These homes are also more likely to have been decorated with paint that contains led. A 2014 report found that more than a thousand children in the Pennsylvania city of York had higher than average levels of lead in their blood.

If you live in an area where it is likely your home was built before 1980, you are at a higher risk of being exposed to lead than those who live in homes built more recently. The lead comes from the plumbing and from the paint. Paint deteriorates over time, releasing dust into the air, which is contaminated with lead, and is then breathed in. Some children might even pick at paint that is peeling off the wall and then put their hands in their mouths.

The only real way to protect the inhabitants of a house from lead poisoning is to have the lead issue remediated. There are many home improvement companies that are equipped to remove lead from homes, and there may even be a program in your area that helps pay for the improvements that need to be made in order to prevent lead contamination. Lead exposure is a very serious problem, with connections to learning and developmental disabilities in children and a range of serious diseases in adults. If you suspect that you might be dealing with a lead situation, here are some tips:

  • Check for peeling paint inside and outside of your home. If your paint is chipping, hire a painter or home improvement company that is certified to deal with lead remediation.
  • Clean the sills of windows and the wells of windows, where lead dust and chips of paint are likely to gather.
  • Wash linoleum, hardwood, or other hard flooring at least twice a week.
  • Make sure your child washes their hands and face before sleeping and eating, to prevent lead being transferred from their hands, into their mouths.

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