What's all this talk about the dangers of lead-based paint? Here are a few points to help you evaluate your risk and protect yourself from blood-lead poisoning.
The lead content in residential paint was steadily reduced beginning in the 1950s and totally banned in 1978. As a result, paint manufactured during this time period generally contains a reduced level of lead, and residential paint manufactured after 1978 contains no lead.
Lead-based paint cannot be absorbed through the skin. However, it is dangerous when it enters the bloodstream through ingestion or inhalation. That means you are not at risk unless you eat lead-based paint or inhale lead-based paint dust.
Lead-based paint in good condition usually is not a problem. Peeling, chipping, chalking or cracking lead-based paint is a hazard. Painted surfaces that rub together or get a lot of wear-and-tear can create lead dust. This includes windows, doors, stairs, railings, porches, fences, etc.
Generally, houses with intact painted surfaces (no peeling, chipping, chalking or cracking) do not present a lead hazard.
|Even a lead bullet lodged in someone's leg does not present a blood lead poisoning danger because the lead does not enter the bloodstream.|
Young children are more at risk of developing blood lead poisoning simply because they are more likely to eat paint chips, chew on painted surfaces, put their hands in their mouths after playing on floors where lead dust may have settled or playing outdoors where there may be exterior paint chips in the soil. Also, the developing nervous systems of young children are more susceptible to damage from lead.
If you are concerned about a young child who may have been exposed to lead-based paint, a simple finger-prick blood test will show the level of lead in the child's blood. If the blood-lead level is elevated, your health care provider will tell you what action to take.
Lead-based paint is not a new problem. Although they weren't aware of its danger back then, children 20 years ago were at a much higher risk because more paint contained lead.
|Children today are exposed to less lead than past generations. Lead
has been removed from gasoline and residential paint, and it has been
reduced in industrial emissions.|
Keep painted surfaces in good condition. Clean the floors, window frames, window sills and other painted surfaces every week. Use a mop or sponge with warm water and an all-purpose cleaner or a cleaner which contains trisodium phosphate (TSP).
Do not "dry dust." This disturbs dust without collecting it and releases the lead dust into the air. (Use the wet cleaning techniques described above.)
|One key to living safely with lead-based paint is to eliminate actions that cause the lead to be released from the paint.|
When remodeling, remove walls in large sections to minimize the amount of lead-based paint dust released into the air.
Whether working indoors or outdoors, do not use a dry scraper, belt sander, heat gun or similar tools to remove lead-based paint; use a liquid or gelled paint stripper.
When working with lead-based paint, protect yourself from inhaling lead dust by using a dust mask with interchangeable filters. These masks cover both the mouth and nose and have air vents on the sides.
Minimize the amount of traffic in the work area to reduce the spread of contamination to other parts of the house. Keep children out of the work area.
You may want to install a fan in an outside window, but make sure it draws air out of the room.
Clean up when you're done. Remove all materials that may contain lead-based paint. Dispose of cleaning rags, drop cloths, etc. Then shower, change clothes and wash your work clothes as soon as possible. These additional steps also will reduce the spread of lead-based paint to the rest of the house.
Lead-based paint waste from residential buildings may be disposed of in a permitted municipal waste landfill.
|Because of the amount of lead in the environment, everyone has some
lead in their blood.|
Residential paint applied before 1978 is peeling, chipping, chalking or cracking.
Extensive sanding or remodeling is planned for a house built before 1978.
For more information about lead-based paints call:
*The National Lead Information Clearinghouse at 1-800-424-5323
*EPA Lead Contact Vern Dander at 303-312-6032
For a list of lead-based paint mitigation contractors and testing laboratories in North Dakota, contact the North Dakota Department of Health at 701-328-5188 or access the health department's homepage at www.ehs.health.state.nd.us.
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