Despite strict regulatory requirements and advancements, lead poisoning is still a major health problem - more than 434,000 children have lead poisoning. Children frequently become infected by lead during renovations and remodeling of a home. As a parent of a baby or toddler, it is important to know the dangers of lead in a home built before 1978.
Lead can easily poison children and expecting mothers when it is swallowed or breathed. Once in the body, lead can have significant neurological and behavioral effects on children. Children under the age of six who are poisoned by lead can suffer from learning, hearing and behavioral problems, and in more severe cases it can harm your child's brain, kidneys and other organs. The most important thing you can do is have your child tested for lead because often time children with lead poisoning do not look or act sick. Lead poisoning can also be confused with other problems because the symptoms are headaches, stomachaches, nausea, tiredness, and irritability.
Lead is frequently found in lead paint that can be disturbed during renovation, remodeling, repainting, or maintenance activities, creating dangerous lead dust. Despite the fact that lead paint was banned from the market in 1978, one quarter of all homes in this country still have unsafe lead levels, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). And thirty-eight million homes have at least some lead paint.
EPA recommends that you hire a professional to remodel or renovate your home. Choose a contractor that understands the hazards of lead. Here are some tips that your contractor/professional should follow:
- Understand that renovation and remodeling can create harmful lead dust or paint chips;
- Have the home tested for lead;
- Make sure that all children, pregnant women, and pets are removed from a home that is undergoing renovations or remodeling;
- Following the completion of work, be sure to take a final dust wipe test and mop the floors to make sure no lead dust is left behind.
To learn more about lead safety, contact the National Lead Information Center at (800) 424-LEAD (5323) or visit EPA's Web site at www.epa.gov/lead.