Lead (Pb.), a common and serious hazard!
Lead is a metal with a very low melting point. It is soft, it is easy to work, it is an easy to use paint and glazing additive and it is poisonous.
Some archaeologists have speculated that the Roman Empire collapsed because of lead poisoning as a result of lead water lines in the homes of the wealthy and powerful citizens of Rome. Modern studies suggest that as many as one in eleven children suffer from lead poisoning. We also know that lead was a common metal in various household materials which were in common use until 1978 (and in less common use after that date).
Lead poisoning is a very serious concern, especially so for small children. Dealing with lead contamination can be very expensive and complicated. Recent changes in the law require disclosure of lead contamination and of a potential for lead contamination during the sale, rental, and lease of certain real estate properties.
Due to the relative ease of using lead, and due to it's relative abundance and low cost, lead was a very popular ingredient in many household and building products. The most common of these are:
Interior and Exterior Surfaces
Plumbing (from Latin 'plumbum', lead)
Under the rules of the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 (commonly called 'Title 10'), disclosure about lead in homes may be required. Here are the words from the folks at HUD and the EPA:
"ARE YOU PLANNING TO BUY, RENT, OR RENOVATE A HOME BUILT BEFORE 1978?
Many houses and apartments built before 1978 have paint that contains lead (called lead-based paint). Lead from paint, chips, and dust can pose serious health hazards if not taken care of properly. By 1996, federal law will require that individuals receive certain information before renting, buying, or renovating pre-1978 housing:
LANDLORDS will have to disclose known information on lead-based paint hazards before leases take effect. Leases will include a federal form about lead-based paint.
SELLERS will have to disclose known information on lead-based paint hazards before selling a house. Sales contracts will include a federal form about lead-based paint in the building. Buyers will have up to 10 days to check for lead hazards.
RENOVATORS will have to give you this pamphlet before starting work.
If you want more information on these requirements (and even more information about lead), call the National Lead Information Clearinghouse at 1-800-424-LEAD or the EPA's Lead Information.
More good information from the National Lead Information Clearinghouse:
If not detected early, children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from:
Lead is also harmful to adults. Adults can suffer from:
*Lead affects the body in many ways.*
In other words, lead is bad.
Lead poisoning can sometimes be hard to detect since some of the symptoms are similar to those of other diseases.
O.K., O.K., you have heard such stories before. Asbestos, radon, second-hand smoke, etc., now its lead. And I bet that your grandma lived to 96, ate out of lead glazed dishes, and drank bottles full of lead containing "stomach elixirs".
In other words, most contamination occurs when the lead is released into the air or water, and is ingested or inhaled.
Lead contamination of soil is a common problem as a result of old paint chips from exterior paint and airborne lead containing dust from some factories and some smelters. Such contamination can be of concern in play areas, vegetable patches, etc.
Soil which has been contaminated with lead containing paint chips often looks identical to soil which is free of such contamination. Similarly, there is no way to perform a visual inspection for airborne lead contamination.
As explained by the EPA:
"Trained professionals use a range of methods when checking your home, including:
Home test kits for lead are available, but the federal government is still testing their reliability. These tests should not be the only method used before doing renovations or to assure safety."
In testing for the presence of any substance, it is useful to try and remember an important lesson from our high school logic class, e.g. you can't prove a negative. For example: you can't prove that there is no lead in a house. You can test 1,000 samples of paint and find them to be lead free, but sample #1,001 might still contain lead.
As related to issues like: lead, (asbestos, oil tank leaks etc.), this means that:
(More information from the National Lead Information Clearinghouse)
"If you suspect that your house has lead hazards, you can take some immediate steps to reduce your family's risk:
(And more information from the National Lead Information Clearinghouse)
"*Removing lead improperly can increase the hazard to your family by spreading even more lead dust around the house.*
*Always use a professional who is trained to remove lead hazards safely.*
In addition to day-to-day cleaning and good nutrition:
Always hire a person with special training for correcting lead problems--someone who knows how to do this work safely and has the proper equipment to clean up thoroughly. If possible, hire a certified lead abatement contractor. Certified contractors will employ qualified workers and follow strict safety rules as set by their state or by the federal government.
Call your state agency (see below) for help with locating qualified contractors in your area and to see if financial assistance is available."
STATE HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL AGENCIES
Some cities and states have their own rules for lead-based paint activities. Check with your state agency (listed below) to see if state or local laws apply to you. Most state agencies can also provide information on finding a lead abatement firm in your area, and on possible sources of financial aid for reducing lead hazards.
State/Region Phone Number Alabama (205) 242-5661 Alaska (907) 465-5152 Arkansas (501) 661-2534 Arizona (602) 542-7307 California (510) 450-2424 Colorado (303) 692-3012 Connecticut (203) 566-5808 Washington, DC (202) 727-9850 Delaware (302) 739-4735 Florida (904) 488-3385 Georgia (404) 657-6514 Hawaii (808) 832-5860 Idaho (208) 332-5544 Illinois (800) 545-2200 Indiana (317) 382-6662 Iowa (800) 972-2026 Kansas (913) 296-0189 Kentucky (502) 564-2154 Louisiana (504) 765-0219 Massachusetts (800) 532-9571 Maryland (410) 631-3859 Maine (207) 287-4311 Michigan (517) 335-8885 Minnesota (612) 627-5498 Mississippi (601) 960-7463 Missouri (314) 526-4911 Montana (406) 444-3671 Nebraska (402) 471-2451 Nevada (702) 687-6615 New Hampshire (603) 271-4507 New Jersey (609) 633-2043 New Mexico (505) 841-8024 New York (800) 458-1158 North Carolina (919) 715-3293 North Dakota (701) 328-5188 Ohio (614) 466-1450 Oklahoma (405) 271-5220 Oregon (503) 248-5240 Pennsylvania (717) 782-2884 Rhode Island (401) 277-3424 South Carolina (803) 935-7945 South Dakota (605) 773-3153 Tennessee (615) 741-5683 Texas (512) 834-6600 Utah (801) 536-4000 Vermont (802) 863-7231 Virginia (800) 523-4019 Washington (206) 753-2556 West Virginia (304) 558-2981 Wisconsin (608) 266-5885 Wyoming (307) 777-7391
EPA REGIONAL OFFICES
Your Regional EPA Office can provide further information regarding regulations and lead protection programs.
EPA Regional Offices
Region 1 (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont) John F. Kennedy Federal Building One Congress Street Boston, MA 02203 (617) 565-3420
Region 2 (New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands) Building 5 2890 Woodbridge Avenue Edison, NJ 08837-3679 (908) 321-6671
Region 3 (Delaware, Washington DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia) 841 Chestnut Building Philadelphia, PA 19107 (215) 597-9800
Region 4 (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee) 345 Courtland Street, NE Atlanta, GA 30365 (404) 347-4727
Region 5 (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin) 77 West Jackson Boulevard Chicago, IL 60604-3590 (312) 886-6003
Region 6 (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas) First Interstate Bank Tower 1445 Ross Avenue, 12th Floor, Suite 1200 Dallas, TX 75202-2733 (214) 665-7244
Region 7 (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska) 726 Minnesota Avenue Kansas City, KS 66101 (913) 551-7020
Region 8 (Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming) 999 18th Street, Suite 500 Denver, CO 80202-2405 (303) 293-1603
Region 9 (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada) 75 Hawthorne Street San Francisco, CA 94105 (415) 744-1124
Region 10 (Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Alaska) 1200 Sixth Avenue Seattle, WA 98101 (206) 553-1200
CPSC REGIONAL OFFICES
Eastern Regional Center 6 World Trade Center Vesey Street, Room 350 New York, NY 10048 (212) 466-1612
Central Regional Center 230 South Dearborn Street Room 2944 Chicago, IL 60604-1601 (312) 353-8260
Western Regional Center 600 Harrison Street, Room 245 San Francisco, CA 94107 (415) 744-2966
Or contact the National Lead Information Clearinghouse at 1-800-424-LEAD or the EPA.