Identifying & Avoiding Lead Paint In Your Home Or Workplace

Lead paint was especially common in home construction in the 1950s, and was the primary type of paint used in homes and professional buildings until the end of the 1970s, according to the University of Illinois. Lead was utilized in sections of buildings that needed to be especially strong and durable, like windows, doors, and furniture, in addition to being an ingredient in paint.

How Is Lead Dangerous?

University of Illinois asserts that lead is dangerous to humans if the dust or residue from the paint or furniture finishers that contain lead are inhaled or ingested. Lead can cause nervous system damage. Pregnant women should stay away from lead, since the substance can lead to birth defects and lower IQ scores in children.

Children can also experience irritability, pain in the stomach and abdominal area, constipation, fatigue, and difficulty learning or concentrating if they are exposed to lead. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults who come in contact with lead may have memory loss, weakness in the muscles, numbness in the limbs, and high blood pressure. Men are at risk for low sperm count or abnormal sperm function. If a person feels that he or she has been exposed to lead, a blood test can confirm this.

Lead Exposure Risk Factors

The Mayo Clinic shares that infants and toddlers are more likely to be exposed to lead, since they will often put paint chips in their mouths. A child’s immune system also absorbs lead debris more readily than the immune system of a teenager or adult.

People who live in and renovate homes that were built before the 1970s are also at risk for lead exposure. Even though the use of paint with lead has been prohibited since the 1970s, there may still be homes that contain residue of the paint.

Identifying Lead in a Building

A lead testing kit is the most accurate way to identify lead in an area; however, a home testing kit will sometimes fail to detect low lead levels. Spectroscopy is a more accurate way to determine if there is lead in your home or office, and how much of the substance is present. Specific training is needed for X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, so if you think you and your family or coworkers are being exposed to lead in the places where you live and work, it’s best to hire a trained lead testing professional for assistance.

Sources:
http://web.extension.illinois.edu/healthyair/leadpaint.cfm
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/lead-poisoning/FL00068