Nearly every day, ESG collects lead paint samples at homes where contractors are planning to do renovations or install new windows. In many cases the contractors pay us to do the mandatory testing so they can know if the job requires lead safe practices when they contract to do the project. In this case, the contractor spends some money up front in the hope that they win the bid to perform the work. Believe it or not, the homeowner is often unfriendly to our staff in these situations, calling the process ‘stupid’, a ‘government conspiracy’ or ‘a bunch of BS’.
The truth is, lead poisoning is a serious issue, with the CDC estimating that nearly 900,000 U.S. children under the age of 5 have elevated blood lead levels. These figures reflect the major sources of lead poisoning: deteriorated paint in homes built before 1978, and the dust & soil around a home that have been contaminated with lead from paint and leaded gasoline.
It’s important to note that peeling paint on wood trim is not the only culprit when it comes to lead paint poisoning. A few years ago, our office did some testing at an older home that had window blinds that had been around for a many years. Although still in good shape, the blinds had a few places where the paint had chipped off. The mother of a young child called us to the house because her child was late in learning to talk, and blood testing confirmed an elevated blood lead level. It turns out that the blinds contained lead paint, as did the soil at the perimeter of the house. A couple of years later, that same mother called us to let us know that her child had a serious learning disability. She begged us to help spread the word of the dangers of lead paint.
One of the challenges surrounding lead paint poisoning is that symptoms may or may not be present. To boot, the symptoms, which include headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and nausea, resemble those of many other common illnesses. The CDC now recommends screening children in high risk areas such as older neighborhoods.
Although the law requires disclosure and lead safe practices, many citizens knowingly and unknowingly break the law. Unfortunately, children pay the price. If you have concerns about your own children, consider testing their blood lead level.