Protecting Your Family Against Exposure to Lead

Is it your first time visiting Check4Lead? If so, we’d really like to welcome you to the family. We’re a family that is focused on helping improve American lives by limiting people’s exposure to the dangerous heavy metal, lead.

While we want to be frank about what exposure will do, we also want to be honest and be honest and tell you that there are situations where you may not need to be quite as concerned, even if you have heard that lead paint is bad. 

Although it’s bad in some cases, there is a reason why it was initially used as well.

Before we get properly started, we’d also like to draw attention to the fact that we have written a bunch of in-depth articles on the topics of lead exposure. You may have come to this site because one of your friends previously asked you if it was ever something that you considered.

Perhaps it was a group of friends that you have known for 20 years and as they came over the other night, one of them brought it up in passing that the city has been known for its problems with lead exposure. This problem, while being bad for adults, is especially bad when it’s kids that we’re talking about. Perhaps they came over to your house and they noticed that there are certain section of your house where the paint is starting to show wear, which could in fact be a serious cause for concern.

The good news is that if your house was built after 1978, deteriorating paint shouldn’t be a cause for concern as far as lead goes, assuming the law was followed. If, on the other hand, you’re dealing with a home that was built before 1978, there is a pretty high chance that it could be something that you need to look into in order to make sure that your family is safe.

Is it all homes that were built before 1978 that will have lead paint in them? No, but it is all homes built before then that need to be checked in case you’re doing any sort of home improvement on them in a way that may damage the paint, or in other ways interfere with it. Besides that, we also find that there are just a bunch of homeowners that are naturally curious to make sure that they aren’t unnecessarily exposing their families to danger from living in the home that they’re living in. If your house was built right around the year of 1978, chances are better for you when it comes to not being exposed to the dangerous material, but you would still have to stay compliant with the various laws. If your home was rather built in the 1950s, there is a much higher chance that you are being exposed to dangerous lead dust, both because of the increased chances that it was used in the home but also because the chance that the paint is still in good condition, is dramatically lower. Paint quality has fortunately improved over the years, with the ban of residential paint in 1978 at least being an important part of helping ensure the safety of American families, but the durability of the paint has naturally also improved over time. So, if you’re living in a very old home, you’re not just potentially more likely to have it in the walls, but since the quality of the paint was lower, chances are that it has deteriorated to a point where it has started becoming dangerous. Time does nothing good to the condition of paint, and given that it’s been about 40 some years since the ban of residential paint, your home will likely have been exposed to a number of storms and different weather elements over time that can all take its toll. 

If you go to the EPA’s website, you’ll also see that they mention that there are still millions of homes out there where the inclusion of this metal in the paint is an issue, and if you have kids or otherwise live in a home where this is present, and you don’t have anything done, you’ll likely end up ingesting the dangerous material yourself. 

The exposure to lead is also relatively wide spread, and there are still instances today where it may be used, which you need to look out for to make sure that you’re staying protected. 

While the act enacted in 1977 was a good start, and the subsequent regulation has done a lot to help improve the situation, the reality of the matter is that there are still a lot of kids today that are having blood levels where the lead content is way too high. Is it likely to stem from your home, probably. Is it the only place where it could be coming from, definitely not. If you have ever gone on a website that sells a bunch of cheap products, chances are that these products aren’t coming from America. While you may have your various opinions on whether the current state of affairs is the way that they’re supposed to be, at least there is one thing that the US does a lot better than some of the countries that manufacture a lot of the products that we use – that is actually making sure that the manufacturers are living up to the various conditions imposed by a range of health authorities. 

Even if you may not be a big fan of the implications of the current state of affairs when it comes to the health effects mandated by various government offices, there’s no disputing that limiting the exposure to lead is a noble cause that has had a tremendously positive impact on the overall health of the American population. On the other hand, you have a bunch of other governments that may not necessarily have the same strict quality controls and in turn there may be unethical companies that are still using leaded paint because of the positive attributes that the inclusion does bring with it. 

In order to see proof of such incidences, all you have to do is just go to Google and type in “lead paint toy recalls”. You’ll soon see that there have been various cases of contaminated toys being sold on a range of websites, and in some cases it may even be on supposedly good platforms like Amazon. Yes, Amazon does have a bunch of third party sellers on their site and they often so end up getting the products from countries where the rules are more lax. As a consequence, you will have extensive toy recalls on occasion, but the bad thing is that by the time it is usually uncovered, there will be thousands of kids that have already been in close contact with the products that are being recalled. If they have been using the toys in the common ways that kids will use toys, they have likely been exposed to lead paint. At that point it can be a great idea to actually make sure that the kids’ blood lead levels are tested to make sure that they don’t fall into a dangerous range. 

While it may seem excessive to test your kids’ lead levels, it’s also a way to make sure that there aren’t any hidden sources that you haven’t been made aware of.

Are you a big fan of home gardening and do you grow most of the vegetables that you and your family consumes, while still living in an old home? It’s not just inside your home that the exposure may be happening, but it could as easily be outside. Did you ever consider the fact that while deteriorating paint may be an issue inside the home, there is also a significant risk that it has contaminated the soil around your house. That can even be the case if your current home isn’t old, but a new home was installed there at some point. We did mention that the inclusion of this material was also really quite common outside, especially given that it helped in terms of durability, but what happens when the paint deteriorates outside? What happens when the lead may be abated outside? If proper precautions weren’t taken and the paint was left to do its thing over the course of many years, there’s a high probability that the soil is now contaminated too, and if you have been growing your own vegetables in the soil rather than buying fresh soil for the purpose, you may have ended up allowing their growth in soil that was in fact bad for your family. 

One thing is that the paint may have deteriorated over time and that paint chips may have fallen down and mixed with the ground, but another potential issue is that the paint has been replaced over the course of the past many years, and that it wasn’t done properly. Or rather, that it wasn’t done safely. The issue is also that it’s a lot harder to in fact ensure that there isn’t any contamination outside, as it is if the abatement job is done inside. It entirely makes sense that you will have various issues making sure that paint chips aren’t mixed with the ground. At least if you’re doing an abatement job inside, it will be significantly easier to cover the various surfaces in the necessary plastic, cover the HVAC system so that there isn’t a bunch of wind that may make the whole job more difficult and subsequently clean it properly. When you are working on doing an abatement job outside, there’s not really a way that is quite as effective, as you will also have wind affecting you, and closing off an area to work on is significantly harder. 

So what happens in those cases? Well, what happens is easily that you think you’re doing your family a good deed by growing your own plants, and who wouldn’t? Rather than going out and buying finished meals, or rather buying fast food, you’re teaching your family healthy eating habits, starting with the inclusion of more vegetables in their diet – who could reasonably complain about that? While growing your own vegetables is very commendable, there are still things that need to be done to be sure that it is done safely. If you won’t be going out and getting soil to grow them in, you should at least make sure that you’re testing the soil for presence of lead, especially in the areas where you’re planning on growing anything edible.

Even if you aren’t growing your own vegetables, we very much encourage you get the soil tested if you have a baby living with you. Babies have a tendency to put everything in their mouths, and that also means things that aren’t necessarily meant to be made edible in the first place. They may put flowers, sticks and stones in their mouths, and even if it isn’t a vegetable, there’s a chance that whatever they’re putting in their mouths has in fact been contaminated over time.

While this article has so far focused a bunch on the exposure that may happen from the inclusion of lead in the walls of your home, whether it is inside or outside, there are also many places outside the confinements of your home where the exposure could be happening. Your family may frequent old buildings where the exposure is happening. Perhaps you have family members that live in a rundown building, and you have been going there as you still want to visit them. It’s not just in your own home that the exposure could be happening but also in the homes of family and friends.

Besides that, there are a bunch of old buildings where your family may also be having to go, and unfortunately those are often places where the money may have been tight, despite the people most often going there are the most vulnerable. Yes, we are talking about the possible exposure in schools. It is unfortunately the case in America that there are a lot of schools that are struggling with funding already, and since lead abatement can run in the tens of thousands of dollars to simply remedy a home, the cost would be significantly higher when it comes to fixing the issue in a space as big as a school. While it’s sad, it’s commonly a reality. 

Other places where exposure is frequent is in public housing. While we would absolutely wish that governments would find the necessary money in order to properly abate these places and make sure to keep exposure low, many of the financially most vulnerable people are also those that will end up getting the most exposure.

Why is it that people in public housing are so much at risk of lead exposure, whereas other people that are living in the suburbs are a lot less at risk of the exposure to this harmful substance? There are two main reasons that contribute towards this, and both of them are really quite sad.

The main reason why it is the case that the exposure is as common as it is in public housing stems from the fact that it isn’t a popular topic that any politicians seem to care about. We bet that if there were more votes included in taking an active stance regarding ensuring the safety of these buildings, there would be a lot more action leading to these things being addressed, but the reality of the matter is that politicians do not really seem to care. Perhaps if it was a cheaper issue to address would they in fact care to do so, but since it can easily end up costing $10,000 for a household to have this issue properly addressed, you are quickly running up a big bill in order to ensure the safety in the household, and on top of that the maintenance of these units is simply often not something that is highly prioritized. The issue is also that there are a lot of people that may not actually know just how dangerous it is for someone who is growing up with this deteriorating paint on the walls and the long-term side effects that it leads to as a consequence. While some of the surrounding areas may be decently maintained, it is often something that isn’t prioritized when actually making sure that the inside of the homes are safe from potential threats, why some of the things that are usually prioritized tend to be those that are more visible. It is a lot more common knowledge that unprotected and damaged wires can start accidental fires, it is not everyone that knows that the accumulation of lead in a young person’s body is dangerous. Most people would additionally probably not even think to test the house for it.

Contractors and their roles in this entire situation

A common issue is also that contractors will often not make a homeowner aware of the fact that there are certain rules that are in place when you are working on such old homes as public housing usually is. While contractors should be testing all the homes and the surfaces that are being affected by the work that they are doing, there are unfortunately a multitude of reasons why they choose not to, often so they do it knowing that they are cutting corners, and knowing that they are just doing a quick job, and then they are off to their next job somewhere else. By the time they have left your home, they may even have forgotten both your name and the type of work that they did for you, even if it was done in a manner that didn’t properly ensure the safety of your family. It is easy to see why it is appealing for a contractor to avoid providing the testing that they ought to be doing, because if they were really to properly test all the surfaces, they would either need and XRF gun that can cost them more than $15,000. Although they may do a lot of work on some of these older homes that are the more typical ones that have all the lead paint in them, they do not have a desire to hand over such an expensive piece of machinery to someone else, who is likely working for somewhere between $15 and $20 per hour. All of the sudden the device is nowhere to be found, and they have now spent $15,000 on a piece of machinery that has gone missing. They may even still have payments that they would have to make on the machinery even if they don’t know where it is. The alternative, which is usually what contractors do, is to buy something like the 3M lead paint test kits, which will cost them around $3 per swab, but which in turn will only be able to be used on one surface before it needs to be replaced.

The issue with the entire situation is how contractors perceive it. Where they could in fact be turning it around and having this be an opportunity for them to make more money, most of them just see it as an additional expense that they don’t want to have, and the reality is that there is only a small number of contractors that will actually end up feeling the consequences of not complying with the rules. Yes, the EPA will hand out fines in instances where they find out that contractors haven’t been complying with the rules, but the fines are still fairly uncommon, why it is easy for a contractor to avoid justifying it to themselves that they should be spending the additional money.

If, on the other hand, they were to take advantage of the situation by offering it as an additional service where the family gets a better understanding of the potential dangers that they have in the house, they would also be able to get more revenue from actually providing those services. Say that they are doing a smaller remodel and find out that there is lead present in one room, there is a high probability that it isn’t the only place in the house where it is, why they could offer lead abatement as a service as well as just being able to paint a place. Since lead abatement is a type of work that will often end up costing $10,000 or more when it is done properly and by a professional, it could be an easy way to actually help them grow their businesses.

Are you curious to keep reading some of the other articles that we have posted on this website, then we can definitely recommend our article that includes the most common questions you should be asking when you’re buying a house.

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