Lead Paint Problem in Lansing

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Governor Jennifer Granholm signed two bills this week aimed at protecting children exposed to lead. Here in Lansing, the city says lead-based paint is a problem. According to city rehabilitation managers, 87 percent of homes the city has tested came back positive for lead hazards. That means there is a threat in the home of lead poisoning from lead chips or dust.

Both the city of Lansing and Ingham County are providing money to homeowners to remove lead hazards from their homes. It often includes new windows, doors, trim, and exterior paint. But the demand has been so great there is currently a two-year waiting list.

Officials say homeowners worried about lead problems in their homes can buy at-home testing kit at stores like Lowe's and Home Depot. There are also private firms specializing in lead removal.

Doctors also say it is important to have children tested if there's a possibility they've been exposed to lead.

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Getting the Lead Out

  • Lead was banned from house paint in 1978.

  • U.S. food canners quit using lead solder in 1991.

  • The 25-year phase-out of lead in gasoline reached its goal in 1995.

Lead Absorption

  • Adults absorb about 11 percent of lead reaching the digestive tract

  • Children may absorb 30 to 75 percent of lead reaching the digestive tract.

  • When lead is inhaled, up to 50 percent is absorbed, but less than one percent of lead is absorbed when it comes in contact with the skin.

  • The body stores lead mainly in bone, where it can accumulate for decades.

  • Calcium deficiency especially increases lead absorption, as does iron deficiency, which can also increase lead damage to blood cells.

  • A high-fat diet increases lead absorption, and so does an empty stomach.

Risks of Lead

  • Lead disrupts the functioning of almost every brain neurotransmitter.

  • While a child's chronic exposure to relatively low lead levels may result in learning or behavioral problems.

  • Higher levels of exposure in children can be associated with anemia and changes in kidney function, as well as significant changes in the nervous system that may include seizures, coma and death.

  • In adults, lead poisoning can contribute to high blood pressure and damage to the reproductive organs.

  • Severe lead poisoning in adults can cause subtle loss of recently acquired skills, listlessness, bizarre behavior, incoordination, vomiting, altered consciousness, seizures, coma and death

  • By the time symptoms appear, damage is often already irreversible.

Top Contaminators

  • Lead Paint:
    • America's No. 1 source of lead exposure in children is deteriorating lead paint in older housing.
    • Because young children frequently put their thumbs and fingers and objects they handle in their mouths, they are easily poisoned from chronic ingestion of lead paint chips and house dust or soil that may have lead particles in it.

  • Workplace Hazards:
    • Occupations that may expose workers to lead include painting, smelters, firearms instruction, automotive repair, brass or copper foundries, and bridge, tunnel and elevated highway construction.
    • Besides their own exposures, workers may bring lead dust home on clothes, hands or hair, exposing children in the household.

  • Drinking Water:
    • The main culprits of water contamination are corroded lead plumbing, lead solder on copper plumbing, and brass faucets.
    • Lead is highest in water left in pipes for a long time--for example, when the faucet isn't used overnight.

  • Ceramics:
    • Some ceramicware has lead in the glaze and may introduce small amounts of lead in the diet, which the body can tolerate, the major problem with ceramicware is the rare poorly made piece with very high levels of lead.
    • Antique ceramicware may leach high levels of lead. Consumers can use a lead test kit from a hardware store on such pieces and on other hand-painted ceramicware they may already own.

    Source: http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/fdalead.html (U.S. Food and Drug Administration Web Site)