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The Consequences of Lead Exposure: Understanding Lead Damage

The Consequences of Lead Exposure: Understanding Lead Damage

Lead exposure has been recognized as a serious public health issue for many years. The dangers of lead exposure on the human body are well known. Even a small amount of exposure can be hazardous, especially for children. As a result, the manufacture of lead-based paint ended in 1978. 

Even a small amount of exposure can be hazardous, especially for children. Lead can cause nervous system and kidney damage, decreased intelligence, attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, and speech or language problems.  This blog will discuss what is a lead-based paint, the health effects of lead exposure, and how to prevent the exposure. 

A lead-based paint, varnish or stain that has more than 1 mg/cm2 or 5,000 ug/g by dry weight.  The evaluation for determining the risk to exposure for a house older that 1978, is completing a risk assessment to determine the location, severity, and nature of lead-based paint hazards.  This includes a visual inspection to determine the condition, need for repairs, and the sampling locations for dust, soil, and paint.  Other sources of lead exposure are water and soil.

The Negative Effects of Lead

When lead is ingested or inhaled, it can enter the bloodstream and absorbed into the  body as calcium.  The list of dangers for lead exposure on the human body is long; it includes ringing in the ears, confusion, memory loss, metallic taste in the mouth, high blood pressure, fatigue, digestive problems, muscle or joint pain, and nerve disorders. In severe cases, lead poisoning can cause coma or death. These effects can be long-lasting and have significant impacts on a person's quality of life.

Children are more vulnerable to lead exposure than adults. The primary route of exposure is hand to mouth activities. Their growing bodies absorb lead more easily by absorbing the metal into bones and tissues.  Their developing brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to damage; including lowering IQ, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems.

Pregnant women are also at risk, as lead exposure can harm the developing fetus. This includes miscarriages, premature births, brain damage and low birth weight.  Prevention is key when it comes to lead exposure. Preventing lead exposure is essential, and accomplish this, we must understand how exposure can occur. 

The populations that are at the greatest risk of lead exposure include:

  • Children living in homes older than 1978 that contain lead paint
  • Contractors or homeowners that remodel homes older than 1978 and do not know how to complete the work safely
  • People working in industries that use lead or lead-based products
  • People living near sources of lead pollution such as smelters or highways.

Preventing Lead Exposure

The first step of understanding how to prevent exposure in a residential home is to recognize that primarily, the main route of exposure is through hand to mouth activity, inhalation of dust, or drinking lead contaminated water.  To prevent hand to mouth activity, regular cleaning of window sills, window troughs, and floors are needed.  The creation of dust can be prevented by monitoring impact and friction surfaces (i.e. windows and doors).  Remodeling activities create a great potential for lead contaminated dust which can be avoided by learning the guidelines published in the HUD publication “Lead Safety for Renovation, Repair, and Painting” (EPA-740-R-09-002). This document presents how to contain dust during maintenance, repair, or remodeling activities.  Then how to clean an area after work has been completed. 

Drinking water should be tested for lead, and if necessary, a water treatment system can be installed. In addition, it is important to regularly screen children for lead exposure by testing blood, as early detection can prevent long-term damage.

Lead exposure is a serious public health issue that can cause significant physical and cognitive damage. Children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable, but anyone can be affected by lead exposure. Prevention measures such as having a cleaning program and understanding how to maintain your property can help protect against lead exposure and its consequences.

If you have concerns about your home or if your family has been exposed, Please Contact Farsight Management Today!

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At Farsight Management we understand that not all indoor air quality companies are created equal.

We feel that it is imperative to educate ourselves, our employees, and our customers. You can trust that we follow all the national standards in regards to indoor air quality. This includes mold remediation, lead abatement, asbestos removal, and everything that we do.