More in News
Ways to Wellness
National Lead Prevention week is October 23-29 this year. Lead is a toxic metal that was used for many years in paint and other products found in and around our homes. Lead also can be emitted into the air from industrial sources and leaded aviation gasoline, and lead can enter drinking water from plumbing materials. Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children six years old and under are most at risk.
Every year in Maine, about 200 kids are found to be lead poisoned. There are an estimated 1000 Maine children under the age of six that have an elevated blood lead level.
In general, the older your home, the more likely it has lead-based paint.
Paint. Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint. The federal government banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978.
In soil around a home. Soil can pick up lead from exterior paint, or other sources such as past use of leaded gas in cars, and children playing in yards can ingest or inhale lead dust.
Household dust. Dust can pick up lead from deteriorating lead-based paint or from soil tracked into a home.
Drinking water. Your home might have plumbing with lead or lead solder. Call your local water supplier to find out about testing your water. You cannot see, smell or taste lead, and boiling your water will not get rid of lead. If you think your plumbing might have lead in it use only cold water for drinking and cooking and run water for 15 to 30 seconds before drinking it, especially if you have not used your water for a few hours.
The job. If you work with lead, you could bring it home on your hands or clothes. Shower and change clothes before coming home. Launder your work clothes separately from the rest of your family's clothes.
Old painted toys and furniture.
Food and liquids stored in lead crystal or lead-glazed pottery or porcelain. Food can become contaminated because lead can leach in from these containers.
Hobbies that use lead, such as making pottery or stained glass, or refinishing furniture.
Children can get lead in their body if they put their hands or other objects covered with lead dust in their mouths, eat paint chips or soil that contains lead and breathe in lead dust, especially during renovations that disturb painted surfaces.
Lead is more dangerous to children because babies and young children often put their hands and other objects in their mouths. These objects can have lead dust on them. Also children's growing bodies absorb more lead and children's brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead.
If not detected early, children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from damage to the brain and nervous system, behavior and learning problems, such as hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems and headaches.
Let your child know that it’s important to stay away from dusty things. You can help keep lead away by wet-dusting and wet-mopping regularly. Show your child how to wash his hands well with soap and warm water by washing yours at the same time. Together, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
Having family and visitors take their shoes off at the door will help keep lead away from your home. It’s an easy way to make sure that dirt and dust stay outside.
If you have peeling paint in your home, contact the River Valley Healthy Communities (364-7408) to find out the best ways to clean it up. Paint that has lead in it can crack, peel, and crumble into dust that children may eat or breathe in. Set up places for your child to play that are free from peeling paint.
The River Valley Healthy Communities is a Healthy Maine Partnership and works to promote health in all its aspects. The office is located at 94 River St. in Rumford. You may also call 364-7408 or email email@example.com. For more information on the Healthy Communities and its programs visit our web site at www.rvhcc.org