July 27, 2019

Lead Safety 101: Keep Your Family Safe

We buy organic groceries, limit screen time, cheer the loudest at soccer games, and would do just about anything to help keep our kiddos healthy and happy.

Here’s what you need to know about minimizing lead exposure at home.

What is lead?

Lead is a heavy metal that was commonly used in manufacturing consumer goods (especially paint) until it was banned by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, in 1978. 

Why is lead dangerous?

Lead is toxic to everyone (including pets) once it hits the bloodstream. It’s particularly toxic to children under the age of six, because their bodies absorb nutrients quickly.

Lead Blood Poisoning in children:

Lead Blood Poisoning can lead to behavioral and learning disabilities. Stunted growth. Hyperactivity and inability to focus. Serious cases can result in seizures and coma.

Click here to view blood lead surveillance data for your state.

Lead Blood Poisoning in adults:

Adults with Lead Blood Poisoning can experience increased blood pressure, kidney failure, and reproductive issues. Pregnant women should be concerned about early delivery and miscarriage, and the organ and nervous system health of their developing baby.

Where is it used?

Lead is most commonly present in paint, soil, dust, and in some cases, drinking water. Lead compounds can also be found in some ceramics, stained glass, pipes and plumbing materials, batteries, beauty products, and ammunition. Here are four places lead could be hiding in your home.

How do I know if my home has lead paint?

If your home was built before 1978, there’s a good chance that it has lead paint. Most homes go untested since lead paint checks aren’t mandatory with standard home inspections.

You can have your home professionally tested by a certified lead inspections agency. Professional testing should be thorough enough to include hundreds of samples, with a follow up report telling you which areas in your home tested positive and negative for lead-based paint. You can also have your home tested for lead-contaminated dust and soil with a risk assessment test. For home testing, we recommend looking for an agency that uses an XRF machine. An XRF machine uses innovative technology that allows professionals to test quickly, with precision and accuracy, and without damaging your home unlike traditional testing methods.

If you’re looking for an alternative option, home testing kits are available. With home testing kits, the results aren’t as reliable but they should give you an idea of whether suspect areas in your home have lead-based paint. We recommend using this 3M LeadCheck Swabs.

How to minimize lead exposure at home:

Renovate safely

If your home tests positive for lead paint, you have a few options:

You can have the lead paint abated by a Lead-Safe Certified contractor. Or you can encapsulate lead positive areas with a sealant or new paint. The big thing is making sure that you don’t have any peeling, chipping, or deteriorating lead paint in your space. Remember that if you disturb settled lead paint by scraping, sanding, or damaging it, you’ll release lead particles into the air in the form of lead dust.

Here’s a list of products we recommend using to help you renovate more safely.

Treat antiques with TLC

Remember to keep antiques with chipping lead paint out-of-reach from young children and pets.

Keep your home clean

Keeping your home clean using wet methods for dusting and wiping down surfaces can help reduce exposure. Minimize dust and quickly eliminate any areas around-the-house with loose paint chips (underneath old windows and cabinetry is a hot spot for chipping).

Additional resources on lead:

Remember: don’t panic, just call. You can always have your home tested for lead paint and dust by a certified professional. If you live in Michigan, we’d be glad to do your testing at AAA. Get in touch today and we’ll help you determine which inspection service is right for you.

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