Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes. Lead can be found in Florida homes and may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children 6 years old and under are most at risk, because their bodies are growing quickly.
Research suggests that the primary sources of lead exposure for most children are: - deteriorating lead-based paint, - lead contaminated dust, and - lead contaminated residential soil.
EPA is playing a major role in addressing these residential lead hazards. In 1978, there were nearly three to four million children with elevated blood lead levels in the United States. By 2002, that number had dropped to 310,000 kids, and it continues to decline. While we still have a significant challenge, EPA is very proud of how federal, state, tribal, and private sector partners have coordinated efforts with the public to better protect our children.
Since the 1980's, EPA and its federal partners have phased out lead in gasoline, reduced lead in drinking water, reduced lead in industrial air pollution, and banned or limited lead used in consumer products, including residential paint. States and municipalities have set up programs to identify and treat lead poisoned children and to rehabilitate deteriorated housing. Parents, too, have greatly helped to reduce lead exposures to their children by cleaning and maintaining homes, having their children's blood lead levels checked, and promoting proper nutrition. The Agency’s Lead Awareness Program continues to work to protect human health and the environment against the dangers of lead by developing regulations, conducting research, and designing educational outreach efforts and materials. Youd be hard pressed to sell a home with such a label attached to it. And yet, many older homes in the United States might qualify. You see, prior to 1978, paints and other products containing lead were widely used in homes and offices. Chipping and pealing paint can expose occupants to this hazardous material. In addition, many older plumbing systems utilized lead-based solder to join pipes. This lead can leach into the water, especially when running hot water. In certain areas, high concentrations of lead can even be found in the ground soil.
Unknown in years past, it is now clear that lead causes a number of health-related problems. In children this can include growth and learning disabilities, headaches and even brain damage. Adults are not immune either. High levels of lead have been tied to problem pregnancies, high-blood pressure and digestive problems.
Before you purchase or sell an older house, you need to know if any lead hazards may exist. If selling, federal law stipulates that you must disclose any known, lead-based paint in the home. If youre buying, you want to know what problems may be lurking in the walls, as well as in the pipes, before you put up your earnest money. If you suspect that a house may contain high levels of lead, you should contact a qualified professional to do an inspection. These tradesmen use a range of tools from the well-trained eye to complex, specialized equipment to detect lead levels and recommend appropriate solutions. The National Lead Information Center (https://www.epa.gov/lead/nlic.htm) can help you find a resource.
Many solutions exist for cleaning up lead concentrations. Depending upon your situation, you may find one of these an adequate solution. Removing lead-based paint, for example, may be as much trouble as it is worth. First, just the act of stripping the paint from the walls is likely to create dust and debris which is more likely to be ingested. Given these hazards, you should consult a licensed contractor to complete this kind of work. Short of removing the paint, you may be able to get by with covering the old, lead-based paint with a coat of sealant specifically designed for this purpose. Once again, a licensed contractor will be able to recommend an acceptable solution. Financial assistance is even available in certain circumstances.
So even though a house may not carry a warning label from the EPA, a little common sense and a sharp eye should keep your family safe. National Lead Information Center - information on lead hazards in home
It is recommended that you choose a home inspector who is a Certified Member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), Registered Professional Inspector with the Florida Association of Building Inspectors (FABI), and ICC code certified as a Residential Combination Inspector.