Making your home safe
We like to think of our homes as being safe, but that may not be the case if your home contains a high level of lead. Lead is easily absorbed into the bloodstream and can be harmful to your health. Homes built prior to 1978 usually contain some amount of lead, either from paint or older pipes. A simple test can determine exactly how much lead lurks in your home.
If the paint on the interior or exterior of your home is chipped or peeling, it’s a good idea to conduct a lead test. “As paint chips away, it creates lead dust that can be breathed in or eaten,” says Jay Dempsey, health communications specialist with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It’s wise to have the soil outside your home tested as well, especially if you do any type of gardening or digging in the soil.
A lead test involves using a handheld device known as an RXF, which looks like a scanner. Results can be obtained in a matter of seconds.
Families with young children should be especially concerned about lead in their homes. “Children put objects in their mouths that may be covered with lead dust,” Dempsey says.
More than one million children a year are diagnosed with lead poisoning, according to Richard Fanelli, president of San Jose-based Environmental Remediation Technologies (ERT). Children have less blood than adults and their bodies absorb lead at a faster rate.
ERT conducts lead inspections on a house’s paint. A lead inspection costs $350 for the interior and $150 for the exterior, Fanelli says.
Additionally, ERT conducts lead risk assessments, which are more thorough tests that involve taking soil, water, and dust samples. These assessments, which are often completed for real estate transactions, cost about $675.
Homeowners might also want to have their homes checked for lead if their homes have older pipes. Lead from the pipes can leak into the water supply. “The only way to know if your tap water contains lead is to have it tested,” Dempsey says.