How do you keep your family safe from lead dust, if you live in a home built before 1970? I live in Philadelphia, where nearly every home in contains lead based paint. But the facts are that while we may have an epidemic of children who show positive lead levels in their blood, it is not a universal problem. What are the differences?
There are 3 questions to search for in the home where children live. First, are there original surfaces exposed, such as stained wood, floors, door and windows? Turns out varnish can contain lead. Second, are there original surfaces that have been stripped after being painted, such as windows, moldings or baseboards. These need re-coating with a lead blocking surface coating, of which there are few effective choices. Finally, is there enough cleaning? If the home is older, or, anyone is DIYer, the home should have an EPA rated HEPA Vacuum Cleaner that is used for seasonal cleaning and dusting. We need to make it a regular routine to wet clean a new home from ceiling to floors before move-in. If the home we live in has bare floors they need regular wet mopping. Everyone who lives in an urban area should be cleaning every window trough in the home every Spring. After vacuuming with a HEPA Vacuum, do a very wet cleaning process, before you leave the windows open for “fresh” air. More often, we are opening the windows to permit lead and street dust to infiltrate the house.
The most important step to take is to see if this is something you need to worry about. Only a Blood Lead Level, (BLL), will tell you if anyone is getting too much exposure. All children under 6 should have this test with every annual exam, and adults should test when you make a move to an older home, especially if you do major work yourself.