Lead Poisoning is a potential hazard for kids even in the United States. The number one way that children become lead poisoned in the United States is through ingestion. I’m not suggesting its something with the food they eat, but more common with the things they touch. Here is a list of 4 potential sources that kids touch that may contain Lead.
Lead-Based Paint Chips
In 1978, lead-based paint was banned in the United States. This change prevented the use of Lead in new paint. This is ideal for the modern buildings, but buildings prior may still be exposed to Lead-based paint. Over the years, paint deteriorates and begins to either chalk, peel, or flake. With that much exposure, all a child has to do is touch it, and his fingers could be exposed, and we all know how kids like to put their fingers in their mouth. Of course, one touch isn’t enough to cause lead poisoning, but if the source is a commonplace for the kids, the exposure can grow over years.
Even if you’re home is built after 1978, there is still a risk of having lead in your paint. Some companies have been found to use lead illegally in the United States. Another risk is if the paint was imported from a country with less rigorous regulations on Lead. Any of these scenarios could lead to homes built after 1978 to contain lead though it is very rare and in most scenarios it is lead-free.
Lead is an element and can be broken down as such. This detail means it can be broken down so fine that you cannot see it with the naked eye. Therefore, any dust in your home has the potential to contain Lead. This is especially the case in homes built before 1978. It’s another factor in your home that your children can touch and contaminate themselves with it. The dust doesn’t have to be from the home either, as lead-contaminated dust can be tracked into the home.
One main cause of Lead-based dust entering the home is through a family member carrying it home. A high exposure job such as in the construction trades, factory workers, or mechanics can lead the family member to be covered in Lead. If they were to come home without changing or showering, they could track the Lead from a worksite home.
Another site to consider for lead-based dust are the window sills and troughs (that’s the little gap where the window goes when it is closed). This hazard is usually the case when the house is clear of lead but the outside environment is not. A neighboring demolition that isn’t following protocols could spread dust over your house, and there is always a chance it can contain lead.
Another exposure site for children is the bare soil they play on. The soil can be contaminated from lead-based paint deteriorating over it. This hazard can be from old swing sets, paint from the home, and sometimes even from the combustion of leaded- automobile gasoline. As the wind can also move exposed soil around, you cannot rule out any area of dirt or soil.
The highest concern wouldn’t be the dirt out of reach. For children, the dirt around playgrounds or their favorite play area are the most likely candidate to cause lead poisoning. Sadly, the only true way to know if it is present in the dirt is to get it examined.
As the ban of lead-based paint exists in America, other countries in the world may not have as stringent laws on the use of Lead. Therefore, there is a risk of the toys a child plays with may contain lead. It is a possibility that the child will put the toy in their mouth. Though, there is more of a fear that after touching it for hours, some of the lead may rub off on their hands.
It also noted, that even though lead-based paint was banned in 1978, the use of lead in plastic has not been banned. This doesn’t mean that all plastic will contain lead, but it does have the risk that it could. Plastic that’s been damaged or heated up could release some of the lead that could expose your children to this hazard.
As children between the age of 6 months through 6 years are likely to put their hands in their mouth, they are the at a very high risk of being poisoned via lead. If you believe you or your children are being exposed to Lead, seek your medical provider and ask for a blood lead test. From there you can better gauge the health of your family. If blood lead levels (BLL) are elevated, it is recommended to find the source of the lead to help avoid, or prevent more exposure.