Many houses built before 1978 have paint that contains lead (lead-based paint). Lead may also come from soil tracked into the home, brought in on clothing if you work in an environment with lead, from nearby factories that may release lead into the air, from food and liquids stored in lead crystal, lead-glazed pottery or porcelain, or even from popular hobbies like pottery, stained glass, or refinishing furniture.
While home test kits for lead are available, recent studies suggest that they are not always accurate. You are recommended to seek professional testing before doing any renovations. Removing lead improperly can increase the hazard to you and your family by spreading even more lead dust around the house.
If you think your home has high levels of lead, here are 10 things you should know:
- Get your young children tested for lead, even if they seem healthy.
- Lead is especially dangerous to children and even children who appear healthy can have dangerous levels of lead. Lead is also harmful to adults as well.
- Wash children’s hands, bottles, pacifiers, and toys often.
- Make sure children eat healthy, low-fat foods.
- Get your home checked for lead hazards.
- Regularly clean floors, window sills, and other surfaces.
- Wipe soil off shoes before entering house.
- Take precautions to avoid exposure to lead dust when remodeling or renovating (call 1-800-424-LEAD for guidelines).
- Don’t use a belt-sander, propane torch, dry scraper, or dry sandpaper on painted surfaces that may contain lead.
- Don’t try to remove lead-based paint yourself.
You might also be interested in this pamphlet from the EPA, “Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home“.