Lead (Pb), Atomic Number 82 on the Periodic Table, is a soft, malleable and corrosion resistant material that is often used to shield against X-ray and gamma-ray radiation, as a vital material in nuclear reactors, in tank linings for corrosive chemicals, and even to protect wires and cables from corrosion. Lead is also alloyed with other metals, like tin, to make solder.
At first glance, it seems like lead is a metal that keeps us safe. However, it’s also a metal that causes harm to our health, especially if it’s located in our homes.
The US Environmental Protection Agency warns lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body. Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in behavior and learning problems, lower IQ and hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems, anemia, and sometimes in rare cases seizures or death. A pregnant woman’s exposure to lead is of particular concern because it can result in exposure to her developing baby.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, “Lead can damage nearly every system in the human body, and has harmful effects on both adults and children. Lead poisoning is the greatest environmental threat to children in Ohio.”
Many older homes, built before 1978, can contain lead-based paint – which can be buried under layers of newer paint. Lead dust — which can be found in soil near old gasoline stations or industrial pollution and can travel long distances via soil particles –can be tracked from the outside and brought into the home on the bottom of sneakers and shoes. Old pipes can leach out lead and enter the water system. All this lead can be harmful, so it is imperative to quickly identify and quantify lead in the home whether it’s from damaged interior paint on window sills or exterior paint on doors and siding.
We’ll be at the Ohio Healthy Homes Conference this month, which will have sessions that cover a variety of topics focusing on lead poisoning prevention and healthy homes. The conference’s target audience is public health, housing, and medical professionals and community members involved with environmental health, healthy homes and community environments. Some of the sessions include prevention of lead poisoning in children, impact of race and ethnicity on lead poisoning, and the future of lead poisoning prevention in Ohio.
We’ll be there showing how to screen for lead paint and on-site environmental hazards with handheld XRF analyzers. X-ray fluorescence is ideal for residential lead paint testing since it can show results immediately. It’s also non-destructive, so samples remain intact. Even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other leading regulatory organizations use handheld XRF analyzers to screen for environmental hazards.
If you’re not in the Ohio area, but want more information about lead screening, read this specification sheet on the ideal tool that can pinpoint lead’s location in the environment, identify the sources of contamination, and confirm that clearance criteria have been achieved after abatement.
Ohio Healthy Homes Conference
April 27-28, 2015
Cleveland Marriott Downtown