Learn how to protect yourself and your family from lead poisoning
A recent edition of the CDC’s weekly Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report highlighted the presence of very high blood lead levels in American adults. These adults had blood lead levels up to six times the amount considered unhealthy by the EPA and CDC, mostly due to occupational exposure. Lead poisoning is also a problem in children, and the CDC estimates that at least half a million children under age 6 have unacceptable blood lead levels.
Though the overall number of cases of elevated blood lead levels has been decreasing over the past decade, there are concerns that the numbers could be skewed. The data does not account for employers who may fail to provide or report OSHA-mandated lead testing for workers, for adults who do not get tested because their exposure is non-occupational, and for labs that may fail to report all testing.
One of the Healthy People 2020 Objectives designated by the Department of Health and Human Services is to reduce the number of elevated blood lead level cases associated with workplace exposure by 10 percent. Here are some tips that can help protect you and your family from lead poisoning.
Guard Against Lead Hazards in the Home
Lead-based paint remains the primary cause of lead poisoning in children. Over 80 percent of homes built prior to 1978 contain lead-based paint, and lead may also be present in the soil or in the water pipes. Have your water tested, make sure family members leave their shoes at the door to avoid tracking contaminated soil into the home, and have lead-based paint removed by a qualified lead remediation contractor like AQHI Inc.
Take Advantage of Free Blood Testing
State departments of health and human services often offer free lead testing campaigns, which may take place at public health clinics or at Head Start preschools. Contact your local authorities to find out if and when these services will be available in your area. This will help identify worrisome levels of lead exposure before they manifest themselves as physical symptoms.
Don’t Do Your Own Renovations
If you have an older home that is likely to contain lead paint, don’t risk contaminating your home with lead paint dust by doing your own renovations. Instead, hire an EPA lead-safe certified contractor.
Take Work Hazards Seriously
If your work exposes you to sources of lead contamination, take advantage of all safety measures that may be offered, including respirators, gloves, protective clothing, and laundry service. Know your rights under OSHA and make sure your employer does not violate those rights.