Deteriorated lead-based paint should be an ongoing concern for families throughout the year, but with the arrival of summer lead dust is likely to increase with opening of windows and children playing outside. Added exposure to lead dust increases the risk of lead poisoning, especially in children under the age of six and in expectant mothers.
Young children exposed to lead are at a significantly greater risk of delays in development, learning disabilities and a lower IQ. In the City of Milwaukee, lead poisoning is well above the national average, and 92 percent of the housing stock in Milwaukee was built prior to 1978 when lead based paint was regularly used.
Know what to look for in your home to decrease your risk of exposure to lead based paint hazards. Lead based paint may be hazardous if it is peeling, chipping or dusting in the following areas:
- Windows and window sills
- Doors and door frames
- Stairs, railings and bannisters
- Porches and fences
- Exterior siding
- Contaminated soil
Increased use of doors and opening windows commonly generates lead dust. Using cleaning wipes to remove dust and regular damp-mopping of floors can reduce the risk of exposure.
Young children often exhibit behaviors that can increase their risk of lead consumption. Watch for teeth marks on windowsills that children often like to chew on. When playing outdoors, kids may try to eat dirt or soil, where lead is commonly found. Encourage frequent washing of hands to wash away any lead contaminates.
Soil along the side of the house is another source of lead poisoning. Vegetables planted along the side of your home may be contaminated with lead paint. Vegetable gardens should be planted in raised beds using fresh soil away from the drip line of the home.
Milwaukee has many beautiful and historic homes. These homes require ongoing maintenance to keep the paint intact. When undergoing renovation and making home improvements, it is important to contain the work area and keep children out of the vicinity of the work. Use a plastic tarp in areas to catch all paint chips and dust that may fall. To prevent distribution of lead dust, use the wet method—moisten the area of paint to be scraped with a spray bottle of water to reduce lead dust. The safest option to ensure proper techniques are being used is to hire a contractor certified in lead safety.
The effects of lead poisoning can be detrimental and last a lifetime. Please take all steps to prevent exposure of children from lead poisoning.