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Lead Poisoning

As many as three quarters of all homes built before 1978 pose some risk of lead exposure to those living in them. This is because the paint in most of the homes built before 1978 was "lead-based."

Paint containing lead can flake off, imbedding itself in carpets, furniture, and soils surrounding homes, thus posing risks to children who may play there, accidentally ingesting the flakes and dust particles.

Adults, and children alike, are exposed by inhaling the fine dust that develop from normal wear of lead based painted surfaces. Lead is also found in tap water that passes through pipes made of lead or lead based soldering materials.

Lead poisoning is sometimes called "the silent disease" because it affects the body slowly, with no obvious symptoms. Low levels of lead in the bloodstream can cause learning disabilities, interfere with growth, cause permanent hearing and visual impairment, and damage the brain and nervous system.

Lead exposure, before or after pregnancy, can also affect fetal development and cause miscarriages. In large doses, lead can cause blindness, brain damage, convulsions and other illnesses, and even death.

As with most hazards, detection and prevention are the best solutions. Home testing kits for lead have been developed for home detection, but some are not considered reliable by the government agencies that oversee lead exposure, testing, and prevention.

In most states, contractors who perform lead abatement activities must be certified by that state's Department of Health Services.

Exposure may be reduced by keeping lead-based painted surfaces clear of dust and paint chips by wet mopping them using warm detergents. It is imperative that parents keep their children's hands, pacifiers, toys, clothes and other objects clean and away from any lead based paint.

Good nutrition is also a preventive measure that suppresses the amount of lead that enters the body by absorbing and eliminating lead, but good nutrition is not enough to totally prevent or to totally eliminate lead-poison.

If lead based paint is detected, it should be removed as soon as possible, but before starting any project that may require lead-based paint removal, it is imperative that you consult a professional contractor.

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