WHERE ARE CHILDREN MOST LIKELY TO COME INTO CONTACT WITH LEAD?
Here are the most likely situations – and other sources of lead to watch out for.
Living in an older home: The age of your house is an important factor. In general, the older your house is, the more likely it is to have lead-based paint and the greater the amount of lead the paint will have. (Although paint manufacturers began phasing lead out of paint in 1950, the U.S. government didn’t ban it completely until 1978.)
Older homes are also more likely to have lead pipes, which can leach lead into water used for drinking, making formula, and cooking.
Spending time in or near any older building: Your child may also be at risk if he attends daycare or school in an older building, plays in a yard near an older home that’s being renovated, or frequently visits a friend who lives in an older home.
Being near a freeway or industrial area: The lead that these sources have put into the air over time is likely to have contaminated the soil nearby. Although the government now bans lead from gasoline, land near a freeway or major thoroughfare may still contain significant amounts of lead from car exhaust years ago.
Carrying lead into the house: People with certain jobs and hobbies can inadvertently bring lead residue home on their hands and clothing. If you work with stained glass or pottery, refinish furniture, or visit indoor shooting ranges, be sure to change your clothes and wash your hands before returning home.
Other common sources of lead:
- Old furniture, playground equipment, and toys painted or varnished with a lead-based product. (Repainting these items may not be enough to make them safe. The lead paint may have to be removed through a special process first or at least be sealed in.)
- Old vinyl flooring
- Old plumbing – lead pipes, or copper pipes joined with lead solder
- Older or imported brass faucets
- Brass keys (Don’t let your child play with any kind of keys.)
- Lead crystal glassware
- Some toy jewelry
- Pottery with lead glaze (especially common in ceramics made in developing countries)
- Imported food in cans sealed with lead solder
- Lead fishing weights
- Old batteries
- Some hobby materials (like stained glass supplies)
- Some imported makeup (kohl, kajal, surma)
- Factories (smelters, battery plants, foundries, incinerators)
Lead occasionally pops up in unexpected places. Some candles have metal-cored wicks that put unsafe amounts of lead into the air when you burn them, for example, so stick to candles with paper or cotton wicks. (The Consumer Product Safety Commission has banned the use of lead in wicks, but some lead-wicked candles may still be imported.)
In 1996, the CDC discovered that some imported vinyl mini-blinds contained lead that had been added to stabilize the plastic. Government tests showed that some of these blinds produced lead dust in dangerous amounts, and the blinds were withdrawn from the market. If your home contains non-glossy vinyl mini-blinds from 1996 or earlier, you should think about replacing them.
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