Everybody seems to think that lead exists only in paint, but that’s not the truth. Lead can appear in your home from numerous sources, including but not limited to water, paint, soil and even children’s toys. It’s important to be aware of all possible lead sources. It’s also important to conduct formal testing as well.
Lead In Water
You cannot see, taste or smell lead in water. To make matters worse, lead can’t be removed by just boiling it. Lead is especially likely in older homes, as many of them contain lead pipes.
If you suspect that the water in your home contains lead, you’ll need to contact the EPA at 800-426-4791. They can provide specific information on how to properly test for lead. In the meantime, make sure you follow the tips listed below:
- Avoid using hot water for drinking or cooking.
- Run the water for 15 – 30 seconds before using/drinking it.
- Use bottled water for mixing infant formula.
If it turns out that your home does in fact contain lead, your best bet would be to invest in a quality water filter. It’s the easiest and cheapest solution. Otherwise, you might have to renovate your home’s whole plumbing system.
Lead In Paint
The United States outlawed the use of lead in paint back in 1978. This means that homes built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint. This is a problem because over time, lead deteriorates into dust, chips and flakes.
The first thing you should do is buy a lead test kit from a retail store. Such a kit will be able to test for lead levels as low as 1,000 ppm to 2,000 ppm. If the test reveals that there is indeed lead in your home, you will then want to hire a professional home inspector.
The final step in the process is abatement. This is an expensive but necessary solution wherein lead paint is permanently removed from your home.
Lead In Soil
Lead can find its way into soil from both paint and gasoline exhaust. Homes close to busy highways are especially susceptible to lead-infected soil. Once lead contaminates soil, it sticks to it for a long time.
The best way to test for lead in soil involves taking a sample and then submitting it to an EPA-approved laboratory. If it turns out your soil contains lead, make certain you follow the guidelines below:
- Don’t allow children to play in, and or around the soil.
- Grow any gardens as far away from the lead-infected soil as possible.
- Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables before cooking them.
- Get periodic blood tests to check for lead in your blood.
The eventual goal will be to replace all the infected soil with clean topsoil. However, this can be both expensive and cumbersome.
Lead In Toys
Believe it or not, but lead can be found in a slew of other items and products:
- Painted toys
- Painted plastic
- Plastic fabric
- Painted keys
- Cheap beads
- Cheap pearls
- Metal jewelry
- Lead-glazed pottery
- Alternative medicines
The biggest concern comes from toys. In 2011, over 100,000 children’s travel cases from Target were recalled because their paint coating was brimming with lead. If you are worried that a particular product contains lead, you’ll want to check with SaferProducts.gov. You can use that website to check whether any toy contains lead in it.
In general, though, you’ll want to avoid stuff like toy jewelry, as well as any metallic sort of toys. Just stick to quality, traditional toys from trusted outlets like Toys R Us.