Who’s at risk?
Both adults and children can suffer from lead poisoning, but childhood lead poisoning is much more frequent. Much of the exposure comes from lead-based paint found in homes built before 1978. The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development estimates that about 38 million homes still contain some lead paint. Adults working in occupations related to house painting, welding, renovation and remodeling, smelters, firing ranges, the manufacture and disposal of car batteries, and the maintenance and repair of bridges and water towers are also at risk of exposure.
Here’s how you can minimize exposure to lead:
- If you live in a home built before 1978, and suspect it might have lead-based paint, hire a lead inspector to test it. If you want to know if your home contains lead-contaminated dust, the most dangerous of all lead-based paint hazards, hire a risk assessor or sampling technician.
- Check your drinking water. Kits for testing water are available from a number of providers. Call the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 for more information.
- Eat right. Foods rich in iron, calcium and zinc can reduce the amount of lead retained in the body.
- Avoid eating off colorfully painted ceramic plates, or drinking from ceramic mugs unless you know they do not leach lead. Generally, pottery made in the U.S., Canada, or Western Europe tends to be safe.
- Do not store alcohol in crystal decanters and glasses, which are often made with lead.
- Cover bare soil play areas with mulch (i.e. pebbles, shrubbery or grass). Often, bare soil will contain some lead, either deposited there by vehicle emissions from leaded gasoline days, or from deteriorated exterior paint.
Content used with permission from the National Safety Council, a membership organization dedicated to protecting life and promoting health.
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In case of emergency, please call 911 or your local hospital emergency service.
This content was last modified on: 08/11/2008