Lead Safety & Prevention FAQs
What is lead poisoning?
Lead poisoning is the most common chronic poisoning and environmental illness in the United States. Lead poisoning is the elevation of the lead in the body. It may cause damage to the brain and nervous system resulting in behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth and hearing problems. Even low levels of lead in the blood have been linked to lower IQ levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has defined an Elevated Blood Lead Level (EBL) as a level higher than 10 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL). In 2007, the Greater Cleveland Lead Advisory Council adopted a local action level of 5 µg/dL.
Where does lead come from?
Even though lead paint is no longer used in homes, it can be found on many painted surfaces. Most homes built before 1978 have some lead paint in them. Lead is most often found on windows, trim, doors, railings, columns, porches and the outside of older homes. When a painted surface starts to flake, crack or chip, it makes a dust. This dust may have lead in it. Lead dust will get onto the floors, window sills, in dirt and in other places too. Sometimes, a small amount of lead can also be found in drinking water.
Where are lead hazards most often found in homes?
The most common areas are window wells, porch floors, porch railings, and bare dirt.
How does lead get inside a child’s body?
The main way a child gets lead in their body is through hand to mouth behavior. Most children will play on the floor, porch or ground outside. When paint starts to wear down it makes a dust. The lead dust from the old paint gets onto their hands or toys. The children put their hands or toys in their mouths and swallow the lead dust that might be on their hands or toys. Children also can breathe in the lead dust when the old paint starts to flake, crack or chip. Some children may eat paint chips.
How can I tell if my child has lead poisoning?
Most children who have lead poisoning do not look or act sick. The only way you will be able to tell if your child has lead poisoning is by a blood test.
How do I know if my child should be tested for lead?
Your child should be tested at least once a year until age 6 and children with special needs, especially those who put things into their mouths or have pica (eat things that are not food like paper, plastic or dirt) may need to be tested beyond age 6. Make sure your pediatrician is testing your child at their annual exam or call the Cuyahoga Board of Health at 216-201-2041 to schedule blood level testing.
What steps can be taken to help prevent lead poisoning?
One of the first lines of defense is good and frequent hand washing. When young children touch surfaces where lead dust is often found (windows and window sills, doors and door frames, railings and porches) and then place their hands in their mouths, they can ingest lead dust. Keeping paint in good shape and regularly damp mopping and dusting can minimize risks.
Lead is also found in the soil, especially close to the house where it may have peeled or been scraped and not disposed of properly over the years. Avoid having bare soil. Plant grass and cover the area surrounding your home with mulch or other ground cover. Using doormats and/or taking shoes off at the door can prevent you from tracking lead contaminated soil into the house.
Healthy foods can help lower lead levels. If your child is not getting enough healthy food, their body may take in more lead. Feed your child healthy foods rich in calcium, iron and Vitamin C.
Use a HEPA vacuum to reduce lead dust in the home. The County Board of Health has a vacuum loan program. The HEPA vacuum can be borrowed for two weeks by calling 216-201-2001, ext. 1215.
How can I get assistance with home repairs?
Owners or renters in Lakewood with children 5 years of age or younger who qualify by income can receive up to $8,000 dollars in repairs to make the home lead safe. Call 216-201-2000, ext. 1527 to see if you qualify for repairs/replacements of windows, doors, and porches through the Lead Safe Cuyahoga program.
Families who do not meet the income restrictions may be able to finance repairs via the Housing Enhancement Loan Program (HELP). Contact Planning & Development at 216-529-7681 for more information.
It is important to use a certified contractor who has had lead abatement training. The city maintains a list that can be found at http://www.onelakewood.com/apply-register/registered-contractors/ or you can contact the Board of Health at 216-201-2001, ext. 1262.
What must be done when buying, selling or renting a home?
The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 was passed by Congress to protect families from exposure to lead. Before ratification of a contract for housing sale or lease, sellers and landlords must give an EPA approved information pamphlet on identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards. Sellers and landlords must disclose and provide any records about lead-based paint in the home. Contracts and leases must include a Lead Warning Statement. Finally, sellers must provide homebuyers a 10 day period to conduct an inspection or risk assessment. Parties may mutually agree to lengthen or shorten this time and buyers may waive this inspection opportunity altogether.
Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home – EPA approved info pamphlet
Lead Poisoning: Know Your Rights, Remedies & Resources – Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
The Lead Disclosure Rule – HUD
Lead Poisoning Prevention – Cuyahoga County Board of Health