The past few weeks on Mamavation TV we’ve been delving deeper into environmental toxins. This week’s focus was lead — something that has been a recognized danger for hundreds of years. Our guest, Tamara Rubin, shared her personal experience as a mother of lead poisoned children and her move into activism. She has devoted her time to educating people about lead as well as supporting those affected by lead poisoning. In her upcoming documentary, MisLEAD: America’s Secret Epidemic, she hopes to get more attention to the topic of lead. Despite lead’s harmful properties being known, the effects of lead poisoning, as well as how to avoid exposure, are not common knowledge. Read these tips to keep your home lead safe.
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Why Should You Worry About Lead?
Lead causes permanent brain damage. The toxic metal mimics calcium when it is absorbed into the body, and ultimately the brain. Where in the brain this lead is absorbed will determine the type and severity of damage. The neurons in the brain stop growing and branching out and they cannot be repaired. This results in diminished cognitive capacity, sometimes not fully realized until a lead poisoned child is older.
Some known affects of lead poisoning are:
- Sensory Processing Disorder
- Memory Loss (and/or the ability to retain new information)
- Learning Disorders
- Behavioral Disorders
- Autism Spectrum Symptoms
- Reduced IQ
- Impaired Hearing
- Decreased Growth
- Immunotoxicity (dysfunction of the immune system)
(sources: Lead Safe America Foundation and World Health Organization)
5 Ways to Stay Lead Safe
Here are some tips to avoid dangerous lead exposure.
1. Test Test Test!-
The only way to know for sure if something contains lead is to test it. You can purchase lead test kits fairly inexpensively from the hardware store, or you can get a free test kit from the Lead Safe America Foundation. There are kits to test products, paint, soil, and even your body. Your doctor can do a simple test to check your blood lead levels as well. You can also have Tamara Rubin herself come host a testing party with her snazzy lead testing gun (Nitron XRF instrument). You can find the details to contribute to a testing party here: Lead Safe America Testing Party
2. Check Dates-
In 1978, lead was banned in paint for homes, so if something is painted and predates this, it probably contains lead. However, there are some things to remember about the 1978 lead paint law. It did not outlaw paint for automobiles or boats. These paints could have been on the shelves or in someone’s garage for use later. Be sure to test to make sure your home is free of lead.
3. Look For Labels-
There is very little labeling required when it comes to lead, but there are some key phrases to look for. If you see something that says “Decorative Use Only”, “Do Not Use to Eat” or something similar, it probably contains lead. The same thing goes for the “Not Intended for Children” warning label. Even if an item appears to be designed for a child, it may contain lead if the maker adds this disclaimer.
4. Know “Danger Zones”-
There are many areas in your home that pose a larger threat when it comes to lead. Windows, for example, often contain lead. Each time the window is opened and closed, it creates lead dust, which is released into the air to be breathed in. Other things to look at are peeling paint, trim, leaded glass, old kitchenware, etc. You can also see a collection of products that have tested positive for lead on the MisLEAD movie’s Facebook page.
5. Hire EPA/RRP Certified Contractors-
If you are having work done in your home, first have thorough testing done to see if you have lead present. Lead dust is not something you want floating around your home or settling into your furniture. An EPA of RRP certified contractor will properly seal an area compromised with lead and dispose of things properly. You should also move your family from the home while work is being completed to avoid further chance of lead poisoning.
You can find even more information in this week’s episode of Mamavation TV, so be sure to watch the recording to stay informed on how to keep your home lead safe.