When parents think of lead poisoning, they instantly think of paint chips from lead-based paints. The truth is lead poisoning can also potentially come from lead dust, which can result from renovations. This can easily occur when lead-based paints are chipped, heated or sanded.
Lead dust can affect people from all backgrounds and income levels and according to the EPA, chances are if you live in a home built prior to 1978 you are at a higher risk due to previous years of lead-based paint products that may start to deteriorate which can create lead-contaminated dust….and think of this: typically, it’s the older homes that are the ones renovated the most.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, no safe lead blood level has been defined. The CDC, however, defines "lead poisoning" in children as a blood lead level of 5 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dL). To put this into perspective a grain of sand is roughly 25 micrograms.
Lead dust can occur in common areas such as: doors, window sills, walls, and porches. These areas need to be handled with extreme care as dusting and vacuuming only circulate the lead dust into the air.
Preventing lead dust during renovations can be achieved by creating barriers from the main living area and wet cleaning the areas once renovations have been done. Covering holes with contact paper until properly fixed is another technique to reduce lead dust. Disposable respirators rated for dust particles should also be used. If you are living in your home during renovations, it is important to wash hands, toys, or anything else that will come into contact with the mouth as lead dust can settle on many objects.
Ensure precautions are being taken for proper ventilation, but opening windows can cause lead dust to settle into the soil outside. When kids play in the yard, they can be exposed to lead dust.
You must consider the critical nature of fully protecting your family from lead and lead dust. Risk assessment and qualified technicians are better suited for jobs where lead-based items are present and the EPA has a guide to help you: Locate Certified Renovation and Lead Dust Sampling Technician Firms. Additionally, we wrote an article focusing on Addressing Childhood Lead Exposure which includes research and statistics on widespread cases of childhood lead poisoning which will be helpful for you to read as well.
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