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What is Lead?

Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes.

How Does Lead Affect My Health?

Lead has long been recognized as a harmful environmental pollutant. In late 1991, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services called lead the "number one environmental threat to the health of children in the United States." Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children 6 years old and under are most at risk, because their bodies are growing quickly.

Lead is also harmful to adults. Adults can suffer from difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, digestive problems, nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems and muscle and joint pain.

Detailed information about the health hazards of lead can be obtained through the EPA The National Lead Information Center (NLIC).

Where Lead May Be Found in Homes or Buildings:

Before it was known how harmful lead could be, it was used in paint, gasoline, water pipes, and many other products.Research suggests that the primary sources of lead exposure for most children are:

deteriorating lead-based paint lead contaminated dust, and lead contaminated residential soil. There are many ways in which humans are exposed to lead: through air, drinking water, food, contaminated soil, deteriorating paint, and dust. Airborne lead enters the body when an individual breathes or swallows lead particles or dust.

Common Products that May Contain Lead and Conditions Which May Release Lead Particles:

Old lead-based paint is the most significant source of lead exposure in the U.S. today. Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint. The federal government banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978. Any painted surface such as trim, window sashes and frames, floors, doors, stairways, railings, and porches could have lead based paint.

Harmful exposure to lead can be created when lead-based paint is improperly removed from surfaces by dry scraping, sanding, or open-flame burning. Peeling, chipping, or cracking lead-based paint is a hazard and needs immediate professional attention. In addition, lead dust can form in places where painted surfaces rub against each other and create dust (for example, opening a window). High concentrations of airborne lead particles in homes can also result from lead dust from outdoor sources, including contaminated soil tracked inside.

What Should Be Done About Lead in the Home?

Do not remove lead paint yourself.

The EPA advises, "To be sure that you are not dealing with lead-based paint, you must have the paint tested by a qualified professional."

Envionmental Testing Associates: Full Service Environmental Testing and Consulting for Commercial and Residential Properties.