Want To Avoid Lead In Your Home? Here’s What You Need To Know…
You may be aware of the dangers of lead in water, but you may not know that this toxic chemical is more commonly hidden in other parts of your home…
At The Tot, we know the importance of keeping your child safe from toxic chemicals. That’s why we only recommend products that have passed The Tot Test. But some chemicals, like lead, may already be in your home or soil.
You may have heard of the Flint, Michigan water crisis in 2014, where thousands of children were exposed to high levels of lead through mismanagement of the city’s water system. While this tragedy was greatly (and rightfully) publicized, it’s important for parents to understand that lead is more likely to come from old paint or in soil (not water).
To give you peace of mind and actionable steps to protect your family from lead, we’ll discuss:
- Effects of lead on children’s health
- Which homes are most likely to have lead in them (and what to do if your home does)
- Dangers of lead in soil
- How to confirm whether there’s lead in your home
Keep reading to learn more!
Effects of lead on children’s health
As the CDC states, “There is no safe level of lead exposure.” Even low-level exposures to children (or pregnant mothers) can cause long-lasting, irreversible harm.
Kids spend a lot of time on the floor. They also put everything into their mouths. These behaviors lead to increased exposures to toxic chemicals on a daily basis.
Why we avoid heavy metal exposure (including lead):
Exposure to heavy metals can cause nerve damage, learning and behavioral problems, reproductive damage and irreversible brain damage.
So you see why it’s crucial to protect kids from lead. The problem is, it can be found in your home, not just the furniture or products that you bring into it.
Which homes are most likely to have lead in them
The older your home is, the more likely it is to have leaded paint, either on interior or exterior surfaces. Lead paint was banned in the United States in 1978, so homes built before the early 1980s may have leaded paint in them.
In fact, the EPA says about a quarter of homes built between 1960 and 1977 have lead paint in them, and nearly 90% of homes built before 1940 contain lead paint!
Leaded paint is most likely to be found on window sills and door frames. Unfortunately, these are prime spots for flaking paint and for teething toddlers to chew on.
What to do if there’s leaded paint in your home
If you’re reading this article and panicking because you’ve recently bought a quaint-but-old fixer-upper, don’t worry. There’s actions you can take to protect your family.
The most important thing to know: Do not try to remove leaded paint from walls yourself. Sanding and other paint removal techniques can create lead dust that spreads throughout your entire home. Whether your child breathes this lead dust into their lungs or ingest it through hand-to-mouth activity, it can do a lot of damage.
If you want the lead removed from your home, you’ll need a certified lead abatement contractor who is licensed to safely remove lead from your walls. Fair warning: This is a pricey process that will require you to leave your home for a few days as they do their work.
Fortunately, there’s a much more affordable solution. Simply painting over the old leaded paint layer encapsulates the toxic chemicals.
Be careful to remove any large paint chips that are peeling off (remember, don’t sand!), vacuum and wipe down the area with a damp disposable cloth or paper towel, and then paint normally using low-tox, low VOC paints. Keep an eye on the walls (particularly the window sills) and be sure to immediately cover any new cracks in this paint layer.
Dangers of lead in soil
If you live in an area with older homes or in a former industrial area, your walls aren’t the only area of concern when it comes to lead. You also need to be aware of lead in your soil.
Lead particles from industrial emissions can settle into soil over the years. And since lead is an element, it doesn’t break down over time. That means this toxic chemical can stick around, even if it’s been decades since it was used.
In addition, if you have an older home with lead paint on the exterior, there’s likely to be lead in the soil right at the perimeter of your home’s walls (from decomposing paint).
Here’s a few tips to keep your kids safe from this toxic compound in your soil. Urban farming is an awesome trend, but you don’t want to expose your family to toxic chemicals through the fruits and veggies you grow. If you garden, use a raised garden bed with soil brought in from a clean source.
Make sure your family removes their shoes as soon as they come into the house, so they don’t track contaminated dirt into the home. In addition, kids need to wash their hands as soon as they walk in the door, especially if they’ve been playing in the dirt.
Finally, dust and vacuum frequently. This will keep down lead dust both from soil and deteriorating paint.
How can I confirm whether there’s lead in my home?
And if you’re worried about the paint on your little one’s crib or bed frame, remember to check The Tot Safety Test Box on each product on our site!
- Looking for non-toxic furniture for your little one? Check out The Tot Furniture Shop.