Thursday, September 21, 2017
Burlington, VT 5 -8 PM
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Lead dust is produced by loose and flaking paint, friction and impact of painted surfaces on things like windows and doors or from friction on painted floors and stair treads. Another significant source of lead dust can be home renovation activities that cut, sand, burn or otherwise disturb painted surfaces. Unless the work is performed with lead-safe work practices that do not generate dust, serious contamination of the home can occur.
Specialized cleaning that utilizes wet wiping, mopping and use of HEPA-filtered vacuums is necessary to properly clean up lead dust. Improper cleaning methods such as dry sweeping and use of non-HEPA filtered vacuums can spread lead contamination. In addition, a surface that has no visible dust can still contain hazardous amounts of lead. This is especially true for porous surfaces like unfinished wood, carpet or concrete.
More than 70% of the housing in Vermont (an estimated 128,000 single family homes and apartments) was built before 1978. It is not uncommon for paint on houses built prior to 1950 to contain levels of lead as high as 50% by weight.
Today, 24 years after lead-based paint was banned in 1978, Vermont children are still at risk for lead poisoning. In the year 2000, the Vermont Department of Health reported that 6.3 % of children tested had elevated levels of lead in their blood, despite the fact that exposure to lead and lead poisoning in children is entirely preventable.
Children Should be Tested for Lead at Ages 1 and 2
The Vermont Department of Health recommends that all children living in or attending daycare in housing built before 1978 be tested for lead poisoning at age 1 and 2. Information about blood lead testing and steps parents can take to reduce risks to children is available from the Vermont Department of Health at 1-800-439-8550.
A common misconception is that lead poisoning affects only poor children, or only children that eat paint chips. The primary pathway for childhood lead exposure is through ingestion of lead dust by normal hand-to-mouth behavior. Younger children are especially at risk for exposure because they put so many things in their mouth.
Elevated blood lead levels in young children can cause serious health problems and damage the brain, kidneys and nervous system. Lead poisoning has been linked to emotional problems, developmental delays, and loss of IQ. Many children with elevated blood lead levels may exhibit no symptoms at all.
Lead poisoning in children can also occur from sources of lead other than paint around the home, but poisoning from these other sources is less common. Lead can be found in the soil around the foundation of older homes, and in other things like lead solder used in plumbing, ceramic glazes on bathtubs and dishes, metallic candle wicks, car and house keys, vinyl miniblinds, and in various imported products, including toys and foodstuffs.
Click here for basic information on Vermont Act 165 (Vermont's EMP Law).