Health Awareness Topic for the Month of July
Do you have plans to renovate your home this summer? If you have an older home, the Otsego County Department of Health has some tips for your safety. Lead exposure can cause serious problems, especially for children under six years old. Lead-based paint was used in millions of homes until it was banned in 1978. If your home was built before then, here are some facts you should know:
- Lead can affect a child’s brain and developing nervous system causing reduced IQ and learning disability. Children under 6 are most at risk.
- Lead exposure can cause behavioral problems.
- Lead in dust is the most common way people are exposed to lead. Lead dust is often invisible. You can get lead in your body by breathing or swallowing lead dust or by eating soil or paint chips containing lead.
- Even children who seem healthy can have high levels of lead in their bodies.
These same facts apply to childcare facilities or any building built before 1978. If renovation is taking place in your day care center or your home, the work areas should not be accessible while the work is being done. You may even want to move out of your home temporarily while all or part of the work is done. And child care facilities and schools may want to consider alternative accommodations for children..
Federal law requires contractors who are hired for renovations, repair and painting in homes, child care centers and schools built before 1978 that disturb painted surfaces to be certified and follow specific practices to prevent lead contamination. Landlords who do renovations, repairs and painting must also be certified. Lead-based paint may be hazardous on surfaces that children can chew on such as window sills, doors and door frames, stairs, railings, banisters, porches and fences. Lead can also be found in drinking water in homes that have plumbing with lead or lead solder.
If you suspect that your house has lead hazards, here are some important things you can do to protect your family:
- If you rent, call the landlord immediately to report peeling or chipping paint.
- Clean up paint chips right away and clean all other surfaces with general all-purpose cleaner.
- Wash children’s hands often keep them away from chipping paint, and prevent destructive behaviors like chewing on painted surfaces.
- Always hire certified contractors for work that will disrupt paint in housing or child occupied facilities built before 1978 or get properly trained and certified yourself. You can search for a certified firm at http://cfpub.epa.gov/flpp/searchrrp_firm.htm.
Remember, lead can also be dangerous for adults. Lead exposure can cause reproductive problems for men and women, high blood pressure and hypertension, nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems and muscle and joint pain.
For more information about renovating right and about the dangers of lead exposure to children and adults, call the Otsego County Department of Health @ 607-547-4230.
For more information about the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP) visit the Environmental Protection Agency Web site at www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm or call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD
Otsego County Department of Health
140 County Highway 33W-Suite 3
Cooperstown, NY 13326