Until recently, the most
important airborne source of lead was automobile exhaust. Since 1975, there has been a 95
percent reduction in the use of lead in gasoline due to the Environmental Protection
Agency's Phasedown Program and the replacement of older cars with newer cars that require
the use of unleaded gasoline.
Seeking out sources of lead in the household and surrounding areas can be crucial in
safeguarding your family members, especially children and pets. It has now been determined
that the effects from lead paint, household dust, lead crystal and some imported pottery.
Children are considered to be at the greatest risk of exposure because they have such
intimate contact with the environment. Their faster metabolism causes them to eat more for
their body weight and to breathe faster.
Children also tend to play and breathe closer to the ground where lead dust concentrates.
They are also likely to put their hands in their mouths, which can bring lead just
directly into their bodies.
Parents can take several steps to help protect their children from the effects of lead
within the home environment. Cover peeling or exposed paint with wood paneling or vinyl
wallpaper. Stripping off the paint will release more lead into the environment, and a new
coat of paint can itself peel, re-exposing the paint beneath it.
Also, lead and lead salts are toxic to pets. Pets are naturally curious and are prone to
claw, scratch and pick at peeling materials. To minimize the risk to your pet, watch what
they pick up in their mouths! These toxic lead salts can be found in such common things as
insecticides and linoleum.
Be careful when doing any kind of remodeling such as removing old paint, replacing
linoleum on floors, counters, etc. Keep pets and children away from work sites and
building materials. Properly dispose of any leaded materials and remove them promptly from
Know the possible signs of lead poisoning, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, lack of
appetite, irritability, listlessness, hysteria or convulsions.
When a pet shows gastrointestinal as well as neurological symptoms, lead poisoning could
be the culprit and you should contact the vet as soon as possible.
Many water mains are still made of lead, so household water should be tested for lead
content. If lead is present in the water, allow it to run for a few minutes before using
it. Use cold or bottled water to prepare foods or infant's formula because hot water tends
to leech more lead. Iron deficiency anemia is a common problem among one and two year olds
that predisposes them to eating non-food substances and causes them to absorb more of the
lead taken into their bodies.
If lead exposure is suspected, consult your health department about appropriate removal
and clean-up procedures. Also, people who may have been exposed to lead or lead dust
recently should have the lead levels in their blood tested by their doctor or local health