Is Lead in Your Home?

mom with toddler in kitchenWe all think of lead being a danger that was found in the house paint that was made prior 1978. After that date paint containing more than 0.06 % was banned by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  But it can lurk in your home in other ways including in the soil outside and even your water.

Unfortunately, it isn’t an uncommon problem. Lead is one of two leading home-traced health hazards in our country today. The second is radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas.

So, even if you have a home built after 1978 you could still be at risk. Lead could be something your family comes in contact with, or consumes, every day. Knowledge is power, so here are some facts and tips.

Why is Lead a Problem?

Back in the early 1970s lead was in many, many products. Then research discovered that lead poisoning can cause permanent brain damage — damage that sometimes doesn’t show up until later in life, often in the form of learning disabilities and behavioral issues, and even has been linked to criminal behavior.

So lead was banned, first in gas, then in paint, and later in household plumbing fixtures. Unfortunately, though products stopped using lead, it had already contaminated soil in any location where it was used. The most prominent instances of soil contamination were in neighborhoods near busy roadways and manufacturing facilities, which could still have lead in the soil around them. The same soil children play in.

Older homes, built prior to 1978 legislation, run the risk of having lead paint somewhere in the home. Loose paint chips often look like candy to kids because of the color and even the dust created, say on a windowsill, from the window going up and down, can be risky and easily ingested by kids.

Although the installation of lead water pipes was outlawed, many older homes still have lead pipes or lead in interior brass plumbing fixtures. Sometimes if lead is in the ground, it can be found in the water as well.

Lead is Everywhere, including New England

Approximately 274 water utilities serving 11.5 million consumers exceed EPA lead standards today. This is why more than a half-million children in this country under the age of six are suffering right now from lead poisoning.

How Can You Protect Your Family?

Here are a few things you can easily do in you home, according to the National Association of REALTORS. If you are in the market to buy, you can also ask for additional tips from your REALTOR®:

  • Run the tap before using water and remember, boiling water is not going to eliminate lead. In fact, it can actually increase lead concentration.
  • If you’re concerned that your children may have been exposed to lead, you can ask to have them tested at your pediatricians.
  • Learn more about your local water source and any contaminants that may be present by looking up your Water District’s “Right to Know” report online.
  • Hire an EPA approved inspector to test your home for lead in paint, the water, and for radon.
  • Replace any lead pipes and fixtures, and install a water filtration system designed specifically for lead.
  • Install fans and ventilation systems if radon is found.

If you are shopping for a new home, it is important to know if a property has a lead issue before you buy! You can rely on your REALTOR® to help you find a home that is safe from these dangers. When your transaction is through a REALTOR®, sellers and landlords are required to provide both lead paint and radon disclosures containing valuable information.

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