Hidden Sources of Lead in the Home

Hidden Sources of Lead in the Home
  • Opening Intro -

    Charming older homes attract house flippers and DIYers who love to bring them back to their former glory.

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The dangers of lead paint and lead dust are well known, and many states require contractors to notify customers that remodeling and renovations can release lead dust into the air. But lead also lurks elsewhere in and around the home. Here are some not-so-obvious, hidden sources of lead in the home:

Soil, Artificial Turf, and Rubber Playgrounds

If your backyard ever contained an old play structure or shed, the soil may be contaminated with lead. Structures painted before 1978, when the U.S. banned lead paint, probably had lead paint on their exteriors. As the paint broke down over the decades, lead may have leached into the soil around the house.

More surprising, though, is the fact that some modern playground materials—such as rubber surfaces and artificial turf—may also contain lead. If you intend on building a playground or planting a garden in your yard, have the soil tested first.

look for: paint color matcherlook for: paint color guide

New Copper Pipes, Old Well Pumps, and Municipal Pipes

Some plumbers still use lead solder when connecting new copper piping. We’ve all heard about the terrible water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where lead from old city pipes—unprotected from the corrosive effects of improperly treated river water—contaminated the drinking water.

New York City also still has lead pipes in some places where the city or homeowners haven’t yet hired licensed plumbers to replace them. Lead pipes, seals, or other pump components can also contaminate well water.

Mini-Blinds

If they’re old, replace them. Many older plastic blinds contain lead and could create lead dust, which is unsafe for children.

Food

Vegetables grown in lead-contaminated soil can absorb lead, and the Environmental Defense Fund reported in 2017 that some fruit juices and baby food contained lead. Before you offer cookies or imported candies as a thank-you to your contractors or eat them yourself as a reward for a job well done, check to see if the brands have tested with detectable levels of lead. Even teething biscuits have tested positive for lead.

look for: lead paint test kitlook for: lead paint removal respirator

Dishware

The glazes on imported ceramics may also contain lead. In particular, older dishes may contain lead because there was no regulation on lead in dishware prior to 1970. Don’t serve food on old or imported ceramic trays, and heat or store the leftovers in glass bowls.

Imported Medicine and Supplements

Home renovation is hard work, and you may be tempted to try the latest herb or supplement craze to soothe your sore muscles or your boost energy. However, the National Capital Poison Center has reported that some imported herbal medicines, folk remedies, and even imported spices have tested positive for lead.

other valuable tips:

Home renovations bring many joys and many challenges. However, you should assume that any home built before 1978 will have lead paint and possibly other hidden sources of lead. As you renovate your home, keep in mind that lead may lurk in more than just the paint. You should also consider that even newer materials such as the solder on copper pipes may bring some lead into the house.

Image credit: sources of lead by Pixabay

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