As a result of extensive use of lead over several centuries in the United States and other countries, lead can be found in paint, dust, soil, water, air and food.
National health experts agree that exposure to lead contaminated dust from lead-based paint in older homes is a primary pathway of lead poisoning in young children and household pets. Lead dust settles quickly, is difficult to clean up, and can be invisible to the naked eye. Young children usually are poisoned through normal hand-to-mouth activity, after they get lead dust on their toys and hands. Once in a while, children and pets also ingest paint chips or flakes. Most commonly children and pets are poisoned from lead dust from deteriorated paint in poorly maintained older housing.
In a number of cases, lead poisoning can be caused by repainting and remodeling projects, that disturb old painted surfaces without proper safeguards to control, contain and clean up lead dust.
HOW CAN I PROTECT MY FAMILY AND HOME FROM LEAD HAZARDS?
1. If you purchase or rent a home built before 1978, you should carefully review information provided to you about lead based paint hazards. Since 1996, Federal law requires property owners of pre-1978 units to disclose any known hazards and provide a pamphlet to prospective tenants about lead.
2. Remodel and renovate safely.
3. Make sure to have your home evaluated for lead hazards by a State or EPA certified risk assessor, or send a dust or paint sample to a laboratory. If your home was built before 1978 chances are it contains some lead paint. If your home was built before 1950, lead paint is almost certain to be present.
4. Do not remove lead based paint yourself.
5. Keep areas where children pay as dust free and clean as possible. Wet mop floors and wipe window ledges in surfaces as cribs with and automatic dishwasher detergent in warm water.
6. Do not bring lead dust into your home from the workplace or environment.
7. Have your water tested for lead. Water may contain lead from pipes or solder painted with lead paint.
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