How Do I Prevent Lead Paint Poisoning?

Dee S.

Lead paint can be harmful to the human body, particularly if it is ingested or if its dust is inhaled over an extended period of time. Luckily, there are steps that can be taken to prevent lead paint poisoning. Knowing whether an individual or her family is at risk is an important first step. If lead paint is discovered, poisoning can be prevented by lowering exposure to lead-based paint through careful reconstruction, replacement, or clean-up efforts. Young children should be watched carefully to ensure they are not ingesting lead-based paint chips or playing in the dust from the paint as well.

Lead paint.
Lead paint.

Not everyone is at risk for lead paint poisoning. Most homes or buildings constructed prior to the 1940s have lead paint, unless measures have already been taken to remedy the situation. In fact, some experts claim that lead paint can be found in homes and building dating as recently as 1978. If a person lives, works, or sends her child to a home, school, or daycare center built prior to those dates, the child may be at risk; if there is suspicion lead paint was used in the construction of the home, the child should be tested for lead paint poisoning.

Paint and a paint brush.
Paint and a paint brush.

Once lead paint is discovered, there are more direct steps that can be taken to prevent lead paint poisoning. For example, if a windowsill, door, cabinet, or other household item is painted with lead-based paint, the best way to prevent poisoning is to carefully remove the item from the home. This must be done in such a way that dust from the paint is not spread, as it is equally harmful if inhaled.

If an item cannot be safely removed, such as with walls or flooring, then it may be covered. Experts believe that simply painting over the lead-based paint will not fully prevent lead paint poisoning, however. The items should be covered with a special sealant or covered with another layer of non-breathable plastic or other protective covering. If such methods of covering are not practical, then professionals can be called to remove the paint. These professionals will use a liquid solution, such as a paint remover, to take the paint off of the item safely.

Another way to prevent lead paint poisoning is by mopping floors or wiping up dust-covered windowsills. It is often recommended to use a wet cleaning product that contains high levels of phosphorus. Doing so will prevent the dust from being stirred up and inhaled.

Watching children carefully is another way to prevent lead paint poisoning. Children are often drawn to the sweet taste of lead-based paints and may try to eat peeling paint chips from walls or other painted items. A child’s hands and toys should be washed frequently to prevent the transfer of paint dust to their mouths. In addition, eating utensils, food, and drinks should be kept away from areas that generate lead dust. For example, windowsills are often covered in dust that is stirred up each time a person opens or closes a window.

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