We used to have lead in gasoline, and so lead was in the air, particularly in cities. We used to allow lead in paint, and there was a lot of it in paint 60 years ago. The lead content was reduced for several decades, and then lead was eliminated completely from paint in the mid-1970s.
Unfortunately, older homes that were painted with lead-containing paint still pose a risk. If the paint peels, lead gets into house dust. Some young kids like to lick paint chips; if it’s old paint, lead gets into their body. If outdoor paint peels, the ground around the base of the house where kids play is contaminated. Many communities have made major investments in reducing lead-containing paint from older buildings.
Elevated lead levels in the body can cause developmental delays, behavioral problems, fatigue, headaches, abdominal pain, anemia, seizures and even coma. The first signs of lead poisoning may not appear until school age.
The cognitive and behavioral changes caused by lead are not reversible. That’s why early detection is so important: It can prevent these later problems. All children should be screened for lead poisoning with a simple blood test, starting at 6 months of age. If the test is positive, the local public health department then assists in discovering what the source of the child’s lead exposure is. And if one child is positive, the other kids should be tested too.
Once the source of lead exposure is removed, a child’s body eventually will get rid of the lead. Some children may need to take a drug that helps remove lead. Children with brief, low-level exposures usually recover completely.
The best way to prevent lead poisoning is to remove all sources of lead. Lead Matters specializes in providing inspections for rental properties in Baltimore, Maryland.
Contact us to have a certified inspector test your home or rental properties.