Spring cleanup can increase lead exposure in home

By Terry Gibb, Michigan State University Extension

Spring cleaning is an annual ritual. Whether you’re cleaning, remodeling or renovating, you need to become knowledgeable about potential lead contamination and sources.

Many homes have one or more sources of lead contamination. Lead exposure can have health and environmental effects on humans and pets. Lead is a soft metal used in many products, including ceramics, printer’s ink, children’s toys, paint, solder, lead crystal, water pipes and gasoline. For many years, it was commonly used in these products. Lead can last for hundreds of years in the environment and never break down into a harmless substance.

In homes, the most common source of lead is from “paint dust” in older homes. While lead was banned in paints in 1978, 74 percent of homes built prior to 1980 may have high levels of lead paint. This is the most common source of exposure for children. They don’t eat peeling paint chips, instead they play in areas where deteriorating paint has produced paint dust. Most of this dust can be found near areas exposed to moisture, such as around doors, windows and exterior walls. If paint is intact (no chipping, peeling or chalking), then exposure is greatly reduced. Chalking that causes paint dust also comes from weathering or when surfaces rub or scrape together as in the case of door and window sills.

Do-it-yourself kits are available to test for lead. These kits will indicate the presence or absence of lead but will not indicate the amount of lead present.

Other sources of lead are contaminated soils and drinking water. While lead occurs naturally in soil, soils can become further contaminated through paint or leaded gasoline. Read More

 

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Posted on June 12, 2013, in Environmental, Indoor Air Quality, Lead and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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