Testing for lead at home, explained

Originallt published by Curbed


Living with lead—a neurotoxin that can cause low IQs, behavioral and learning issues for children, and high blood pressure, pain, or memory loss for adults—is something every homeowner or renter wants to avoid. But the unfortunate reality is that lead can be found in many homes we live in, buildings we frequent, and infrastructure we depend on.

Lead concerns can be as personal as discovering lead paint in beloved built-ins at home and as detrimentally widespread as water contamination from lead pipes in Flint, Michigan. So how much of a risk does it pose in your life? And if you think there’s lead in your home, what should you do?

Curbed spoke with three environmental experts about when and how to test for lead, whether you’re a homeowner or renter. In tackling this scary neurotoxin, knowledge is power—and proper testing and treatment can make it manageable.

So what exactly is lead?

Lead is a naturally occurring element found in small amounts in the earth’s crust. “Lead was used for years and years and years—there’s historical records that it may have led to the downfall of the Roman empire,” says Frank Lesh, ambassador for the American Society of Home Inspectors.

In more modern times it’s been used in paint, ceramics, pipes and plumbing materials, gasoline, batteries, ammunition, even cosmetics. It can be absorbed into soil and also move into groundwater. Federal and state laws and regulations over the years have helped reduce the amount of lead in air, drinking water, soil, products, and buildings.

Who is most at risk?

Children are at the highest risk, as their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to lead’s damaging effects. Lesh points out that because children often put their hands and other objects in their mouths, it heightens the risk of ingesting lead dust or soil. Pregnant women are at risk, too, since lead exposure can carry to a developing baby.

Date : 6/3/2019