Lead paint can seriously affect the health of anyone, and especially children and pregnant women. For many years manufacturers added lead to paint to increase its' durability. Then they discovered that lead paint caused serious health hazards so in 1973, lead was no longer added during manufacturing and in 1978, lead paint was no longer sold.
While the incidence of lead paint is dramatically lower, the EPA wants to eliminate lead paint problems, so they've created a new rule called the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP Rule)which takes effect April 22, 2010. The rule requires contractors, landlords, property managers and real estate professionals (appraisers, home inspectors, etc) to get trained, certified and provide home owners with the Renovate Right booklet at least 7 days before starting work, to help you understand the required steps to prevent lead paint dust from contaminating your home.
The EPA requires many professionals to communicate with home owners. You have a role in learning why it's important as … the rules are to protect you and your loved ones.
Why You Need to Learn About Lead Paint Hazards
Lead has been removed from the manufacturing process (gasoline, residential paint, solder used for food cans and water pipes) but the problem persists. The new ruling focuses on lead paint that already exists in our homes, in common areas shared by residents of group housing and in child-care facilities. Here are statistics to help you recognize just how critical it is to learn and support the RRP Rule.
- The Alliance for Healthy Homes says “… When absorbed into the body, lead is highly toxic to many organs and systems and seriously hinders the body's neurological development. It hurts children under age six because it's easily absorbed by growing bodies and interferes with the developing brain and other organs and systems.” Lead poisoning in women can also be transferred to an unborn fetus.
- “… Lead poisoning causes irreversible health effects and there is no cure for lead poisoning. Low levels of lead exposure in children cause reduced IQ and attention span, hyperactivity, impaired growth, reading and learning disabilities, hearing loss, insomnia, and a range of other health, intellectual, and behavioral problems.” It's difficult to identify, i.e. only a blood test can tell if your child is poisoned.
- Lead remains in the body for 30+ years and there is no medical treatment for the disease.
- The CDC estimates 890,000 U.S. children ages one to five have elevated blood lead levels and through continuous research, NHANES knows some communities have rates of exposure 5 times the national average … with an estimated 1.6% of children ages 1 to 5 at risk.
Where is the Lead?
Be aware that lead can be found anywhere, so maybe it's time to follow new healthy habits like washing hands frequently to reduce the possibility that your children will ingest lead dust.
- Lead in paint and paint dust. Children are poisoned by lead dust from deteriorating paint in older homes, and to a lesser degree by painting and remodeling projects that disrupt painted surfaces without proper safeguards. Small amounts, i.e. the amount of sugar in a 1 gram packet can leave levels of lead that are more than twice the federal standard (40 µg/ft2).
- Soil can be contaminated with lead. Children with dirty hands who place their fingers or toys in their mouths are at risk outside, when tracking dirt inside, from pets and even the wind.
- Drinking water can get contaminated from lead in pipes when water corrodes them. The EPA estimates 10 to 20 percent of lead exposure comes from water and recommends action when more than 10 percent of tap water samples exceed the action level of 15 parts per billion.
- Surprises include children's toys made overseas with lead paint and other imported products like an article I read about plastic purses.
The folks at Zip Wall Barrier Systems (used by contractors to prevent lead dust from spreading beyond the work area) left a comment and I found some great links on their web site, so here they are with an emphasis on families with children:
- Prevent Lead Poisoning in Children, Dr. Maria Doa, Director EPA National Program Chemicals Division.
- Is your child safe from lead poisoning, Dr. Mary Jean Brown, chief of CDC's Lead Poisoning and Prevention Program.
- Lead and a healthy diet
- Lead paint safety-a field guide
- Lead poisoning and your children
- Protect your family from lead in your home