WHAT IS LEAD?
Lead is a heavy, gray metal. Historically lead has been added to household paints and other paints because it helped them dry faster. Lead-based paint also was preferred because it made a coating that stood up to wear and tear and weather changes. Today lead is classified as a toxic substance and is know to cause adverse health effects in humans and the environment. In 1978, the Consumer Products Safety Commission banned lead-based paint for residential uses. However, lead-based paint for industrial uses, such as on bridges and other steel structures, is still permitted.
WHY IS LEAD DANGEROUS?
Childhood lead poisoning is the number one environmental disease of young children under the age of 6, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At Low levels, lead’s neurotoxic effects have the greatest impact on children’s developing brains and nervous systems, causing potential brain damage, reductions in I.Q., reading and learning disabilities, hyperactivity, attention span deficit, decreased growth, and impaired hearing. A blood-lead test is the only way to diagnose lead poisoning. We urge you to test your children to detect lead poisoning in time to prevent or limit injury.
WHAT ARE THE PRIMARY SOURCES OF LEAD POISONIING?
The foremost cause of childhood lead poisoning in the US today is lead-based paint and accompanying contaminated dust and soil found in older houses built prior to 1978. Leaded dust is generated as lead-based paint deteriorates over time, is damaged by moisture, abraded on friction and impact surfaces, begins to crack and chip, or is disturbed in the course of renovation, repair, or abatement projects. This dust may be so fine that it can not be seen by the naked eye. Peeling paint and dust, caused by lead paint chipping, are either inhaled by children or eaten by children. Children also suck on their hands or toys that have lead dust on them. Some toddlers even eat paint chips or chew on lead painted windowsills and stair rails because the paint chips are sweet tasting. Lead can also be tracked into homes from exterior dust in the soil. The high levels of lead in soil typically come from deteriorating exterior lead-based paint around the foundation of a house. Bare soil that is contaminated with lead poses a hazard to children who play in it.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF LEAD POISONING?
There are usually no signs of lead poisoning, or they may be mistaken for symptoms of Flu or other illnesses. If there are signs, these symptoms may include stomachache, cramps, irritability, fatigue, frequent vomiting, constipation, headache, sleep disorders, and poor appetite.
WHAT ACTIVITIES CAN CREATE LEAD HAZARDS OR DUST?
Renovation and remodeling can create lead hazards for homeowners and their families. Removing lead-based paint or breaking through the painted surface may release lead dust throughout the home. Even though the top layer of paint may be new, paint beneath it may contain lead, which is exposed to the air if that paint is chipped or disturbed in any way. Lead-based paint can be found on walls, trim window frames, floors, stairways, doors, radiators, porches, railings, and exterior siding. Surfaces with lead-based paint can be disturbed by removing or replacing windows, baseboards, doors, plumbing, fixtures, heating and ventilation duct work, and electrical systems and tearing down walls. Sanding, patching, or scraping lead-based paint will also create large amounts of lead dust. Burning lead-based paint with an open flame may result in poisonous fumes that can be inhaled.
HOW CAN I PREVENT MY CHILD FROM GETTING LEAD POSIONING?
Before beginning a renovating or remodeling project or buying a new home, be sure to have a Certified and Licensed Lead-Based Paint Inspector or Risk Assessor test for lead-based paint in the home. Protect your child with regular screening. Screening and early detection of lead poisoning will avoid damage from long term exposure. The lower the lead levels the easier the treatment. Screening is done by a blood test to find out if there is too much lead in your child’s blood. Most children should be screened at 12 to 15 months of age and should have follow up screening as recommended by their health care provider. Screening locations may include health clinics, family physicians or pediatricians, and the Public Health Department.
Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality
Air Quality Division
PO Box 1677
Oklahoma City, OK 73101-1677
General Phone Number (405) 702-4100
Fax Number (405) 702-4101
Please contact us with any questions you may have