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What to do about lead contaminants in the home:
This document describes the immediate steps that can be taken to protect people from lead poisoning in the home. This article series provides advice for reducing the risk of lead poisoning for families living in homes
where lead exposure is suspected, likely, or where lead contamination is actually confirmed by testing.
What Can You Do Now to Protect Your Family From Lead Poisoning?
The original U.S. CPSC document is public domain. We have made additions to the technical depth of this article and we have added additional important detail about lead hazards
- these are indicated by a [bracketed note in italics]. The additional text or commentary, website design, links, and references are
If you suspect that your house has lead hazards, you can take some immediate steps to reduce your family's risk:
If you rent, notify your landlord of peeling or chipping paint.
Clean up paint chips immediately.
Clean floors, window frames, window sills, and other surfaces weekly. Use a mop or sponge with warm water and a general all-purpose cleaner or a cleaner made specifically for lead.
REMEMBER: NEVER MIX AMMONIA AND BLEACH PRODUCTS TOGETHER SINCE THEY CAN FORM A DANGEROUS GAS.
Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty or dusty areas.
Wash children's hands often, especially before they eat and before nap time and bed time.
Keep play areas clean. Wash bottles, pacifiers, toys, and stuffed animals regularly.
Keep children from chewing window sills or other painted surfaces.
Clean or remove shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking in lead from soil.
Make sure children eat nutritious, low-fat meals high in iron and calcium, such as spinach and low-fat dairy products. Children with good diets absorb less lead.
How Can You Significantly Reduce Indoor Lead Poisoning Hazards
Removing lead improperly can increase the hazard to your family by spreading even more lead dust around the house.
Always use a professional who is trained to remove lead hazards safely.
In addition to day-to-day cleaning and good nutrition:
You can temporarily reduce lead hazards by taking actions like repairing damaged painted surfaces and planting grass to cover soil with high lead levels.
These actions (called "interim controls") are not permanent solutions and will not eliminate all risks of exposure.
To permanently remove lead hazards, you must hire a lead "abatement" contractor. Abatement (or permanent hazard elimination) methods include removing, sealing, or enclosing lead-based paint with special materials.
Just painting over the hazard with regular paint is not enough.
Always hire a person with special training for correcting lead problems--someone who knows how to do this work safely and has the proper equipment to clean up thoroughly. If possible, hire a certified lead abatement contractor. Certified contractors will employ qualified workers and follow strict safety rules as set by their state or by the federal government.
Call your state agency (see below) for help with locating qualified contractors in your area and to see if financial assistance is available.
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"The voluntary standard established in the United States under ASTM F-963 and the European standard under EN-71 for soluble lead in toys (lead which may migrate from the toy and be ingested by the child) is 90 parts-per-million. At that level, any intentional use of lead in paints or other surface coatings containing lead would immediately put the toy over the permitted limit."
"Under federal law, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) enforces a standard for total lead of 600 ppm. Recently, the CPSC refused to lower the lead limit in paint and other similar surface coating materials to 100 ppm after finding that most paints sold in the United States were already at or below that level and, therefore, these materials did not present an unreasonable risk of injury warranting further government regulation."
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The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
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