Reduce Lead Exposure at Home

Lead in paint and pipes can cause serious health issues for your family

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Lead paint in old homes could cause lead poisoning

How to protect you and your family from lead exposure or poisoning

Long-term exposure to lead can cause serious health problems. Lead poisoning has been linked to learning disabilities, growth problems, blood disorders, aggression and attention deficit disorder in children.

Paint and Pipes Are the Most Common Sources of Lead

The most common sources of lead exposure for youngsters are the paint or pipes found in older homes. Lead was an ingredient in paint until 1977, so many older homes still have lead paint under layers of newer paints.

Similarly, the plumbing in older homes may include pipes that have been connected using lead solder. Even restoring these homes can be dangerous, since removing the old paint or plumbing can leave lead-laden dust in the air or on surrounding surfaces.

Reducing the Risk of Lead Exposure

Youngsters are often exposed to lead by putting lead objects or lead-based paint chips into their mouths, or by touching lead objects and then not washing their hands before eating.

Other lesser-known sources of lead include some home remedies and folk remedies from Asia or Mexico sold in powdered form. Some nutritional supplements, including calcium derived from bone meal or dolomite, may contain lead.

Lead can also be present in certain cosmetics, foods cooked or stored in glazed pottery, keys, pewter, lead sinkers used for fishing and imported costume jewelry.

Five Simple Things You Can Do to Protect Your Family from the Dangers of Lead Exposure

  1. Make sure children have toys to chew when teething – not keys or necklaces
  2. Limit medicines and nutritional supplements to those recommended by your doctor
  3. Contact your municipal or provincial health department for information on how to get your paint tested for lead levels. If you think your house may be contaminated with lead paint, you can minimize your family’s exposure by wiping down the surfaces in your home with a damp cloth twice a week
  4. Lead-soldered plumbing can be replaced. If that’s not an immediate option, then make a habit of running cold water through the tap for a few minutes before using it
  5. Use stainless-steel pots for cooking and keep your pottery out of reach of children.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.