know that the ancient Romans used lead as a paint additive
as a painter" was an ancient catch phrase rooted in the demented
behavior of lead-poisoned painters)? Lead has had many odd incarnations
over the years: it's been used as a nifty spermicide for informal
birth control; the ideal "cold" metal for use in the manufacture
of chastity belts; a sweet and sour condiment popular for seasoning
and adulterating food; a wine preservative perfect for stopping
We've come along way in understanding the dangers of this cheap and malleable
metal and in the last 30 years have banned or restricted its use in most
products. Today we know that lead is a poison. If a home or apartment building
was built prior to 1978 the interior or exterior paint may contain lead.
Household dust can contain small pieces of lead from paint chips.
Sometimes lead is in the soil next to buildings where homes have been remodeled
or painted and paint chips or sanding dust has accumulated. There can also
be an elevated lead level in water in a home where the plumbing was installed
One out of every nine American children has too much lead
in their bodies-and rates of lead poisoning are highest in cities. Dust
from lead is the biggest threat to young children, and causes irreversible, "invisible" damage
to the brain and nervous system. A child may not look or feel
sick. Pregnant women and nursing mothers also need to be concerned
lead levels since it can be passed on to unborn children and
breast fed babies.
paint in older housing in good condition. Repair peeling and
chipping paint immediately and clean lead dust thoroughly with
a HEPA vacuum.
Many children are lead-poisoned by simple homeowner renovations. If you have
lead paint, strongly consider having a lead-certified contractor perform
the renovation. For more information click
If you rent, report peeling or chipping paint to your landlord or local health
Learn Lead Safe Work Practices before you start any home improvement project.
For more information about making your home lead safe call
1-800-424-LEAD, and visit Training
Do not try to remove lead-based paint on your own. It should only be done
by trained professionals. Call 1-888-LEAD-LIST for certified inspectors and
workers in your area or visit The Lead Listing on-line at www.leadlisting.org/.
Reduce lead-based paint dust with good housekeeping habits. Regularly clean
floors, windowsills, and other surfaces using wet methods that control dust.
Always wash your children's hands before eating.
Wipe or remove shoes before entering your home.
Plumbing put in before 1930 may contain lead pipes. Newer homes should not
have water pipes joined with lead-based solder. Minnesota banned the use
of water pipes joined with lead-based solder in June of 1985. New brass faucets
may also contain lead.
The only way you can tell if your water has lead in it is to have the water
tested by a certified lab. Call your local health department or the Minnesota
Department of Health at 651-215-0890 or 800-798-9050 for the name of an approved
lab in your area.
you think that you have lead in your water:
cook, drink or make baby formula with water from the hot water
faucet. Hot water dissolves more lead than cold water.
use cold water for cooking or drinking. Let the cold water run
for a couple of minutes, or until there is a temperature change,
each time the water has been sitting in the pipes for six or
need hot water, pour it from the cold water faucet and then heat
it on the stove.
Information and Resources
Dept. of Health to find a licensed lead removal professional 651-215-0890
Lead Information Center 1-800-424-5323