Tricounty News

Lead paint danger



As a parent you want to create the best possible home environment for one's family Ð one that is comfortable, and above all, safe. Unfortunately, in recent years, a number of concerns regarding the physical and environmental safety of homes have come to light, especially the dangers of lead paints.

Lead gets into the human body in a number of ways, primarily when people touch surfaces that have been painted with lead paint. As the paint ages, it deteriorates into flakes or dust. This dust can infiltrate the air throughout a home causing the intake of lead into the lungs. Other transfer methods include touching surfaces and then putting your fingers in your mouth, or walking through dust and causing transference. Anyone who comes in contact with the dust runs the risk of a high concentration of lead exposure.

What to be aware of:

Most homes built before 1978, and almost all built before 1960, will have lead-based paint. However, the presence of lead-based paint alone is not necessarily hazardous. If the paint is intact, meaning it hasn't deteriorated or cracked, then it's likely harmless. People living in older homes should make it a priority to not allow their paint to deteriorate. Chipped paint and any areas, such as windows and doors, where painted surfaces rub together are high-concern areas.

In addition to lead found around the home, be watchful of other sources of including: old painted toys and furniture, hobby supplies used in stained-glass work and pottery, and drinks or food stored in lead crystal decanters or pottery with lead glazes.

What are the dangers?

The dangers associated with lead-based paints are many. Because lead paint can harm both the brain and the central nervous system, the negative consequences of exposure are especially damaging.

Among the consequences for children are:

¥ decreased intelligence scores

¥ learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder (ADD), hyperactivity, problems with memory

¥ impaired hearing

¥ decreased growth, poor coordination, muscle and joint pain

¥ headaches and hearing problems.

¥ Among the consequences for adults are:

¥ high blood pressure

¥ reproductive problems

¥ memory loss

¥ digestive ailments

¥ low birth weight, premature births, and even miscarriage in pregnant women

Who is most at risk?

Children 6 years of age and younger, including unborns, are most at risk to the negative consequences of lead paint. A child's brain and nervous system are undergoing more rapid changes than those of an adult, and consequently, their systems absorb more lead than an adult's. Additionally, typical child behavior involves playing on the ground or floor or putting things in their mouths making them more likely to inhale or ingest lead dust.

How to protect children:

First and foremost have children tested. For infants, have them tested before their first birthday and then once more a year later. If you're still concerned, have children under the age of 6 tested annually.

Keep kids out of work areas around the home. Ward off rooms that are under construction, and keep furniture in such rooms covered in plastic to avoid lead dust. Spray all surfaces with water once the room is ready for use again.

Hand washing is also an effective way to protect children from exposure. Lead gets into the body through ingestion or respiration, so be sure to wash hands before eating and bedtime.

A healthy diet can also protect kids from possible exposure to lead. Children who get sufficient calcium, vitamin C and iron in their daily diet will absorb less lead.

Don Keenan, the founder of Keenan's Kids Foundation, is the author of the child safety book 365 Ways to Keep Kids Safe, which is available at
balloonpress.com, and www.amazon.

com. All proceeds benefit the Keenan's Kids Foundation,
foundation.com or www.myspacecom/365waystokeepkidssafe.com.