As the rainy season approaches, construction projects tend to move inside. And during the dust and remodeling, homeowners can find themselves surprised by the presence of lead. Lead is one of the silent toxins that pose health issues because it accumulates in the body.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website cites that lead poisoning often goes unrecognized because it lacks obvious symptoms. It can affect any part of the body.
According to Michael Grohol of Central Coast Lead Inspection Services, those with homes built before 1978 should definitely have their surroundings checked for lead. Prior to 1978 paint generally contained lead until the law was changed to prevent this practice.
Those that are near a freeway stand a high chance of having the soil around their homes contaminated since lead used to be added to gasoline until the 1980s. There are thousands of cars on the roads, some leak gasoline, which then seeps into the ground.
Further, dust and pieces of contaminated paint can get into soil.
“Lead in soil is important,” Grohol said. “If you were in the area that was heavily trafficked and you were growing plants that you were going to eat , and your house was built before 1978, you might want to check that soil before you start growing veggies.”
The testing is especially important for children under age six because lead impacts their development. “Lead affects their brain, kidneys and internal organs,” Grohol said. “It can affect their IQ.”
Grohol discovered a direct correlation between lead exposure during childhood and violent tendencies when exposed individuals reach their 20s. On his website, he features an article that talks about how criminal blood tests show high levels of lead.
In light of this, it’s of little surprise that CDC has recently lowered their standards for what is considered lead poisoning. The accepted norm used to be 10 micrograms per deciliter, but it now has been lowered to 5 micrograms per deciliter.
Grohol said he urges parents get a simple blood test for their children, so that future treatment can be avoided.
In his business, Grohol inspects properties inside and out for lead. He uses non-invasive technology that provides him with information about how much lead is present and whether it poses a danger.
And it’s not just paint and soil that could be contaminated. Lead can be found in water too, if there are old fixtures or pipes present. To test water, Grohol sends samples to a lab. All other testing can be done onsite.
An average inspection is approximately $500, but the actual cost depends on how in depth Grohol goes with his assessment. “If you were doing remodeling on your home, you can just do inspections where you do the remodeling,” he said. That helps cut down costs.
While it’s commonly believed that lead no longer poses an issue, Grohol said he wants to remind everyone that it’s still a problem, especially during construction. “Being a builder, I saw how this had been in the media, and then they thought it was all better, but in fact it never went away,” Grohol said.
Other everyday sources of lead include old batteries and computer backups. Check with a local waste management station on how to dispose of these.
For CDC information about lead poisoning, visit http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/.
A resource to download from the Environmental Protection Agency site is Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home pamphlet at http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-02/documents/lead_in_your_home_brochure_land_b_w_508_easy_print_0.pdf.
For more information about Grohol’s business, visit his website at http://www.centralcoastleadinspection.com.