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Even though several regulations are in place to prevent lead from entering our water, ground and air, there are still countless reported incidents of disability and even death from lead exposure and contamination. In 2016, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated that lead exposure accounted for 540,000 deaths and contributes to more than 600,000 reported cases of disability among children worldwide. In honor of International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, we’d like to talk about the signs of lead poisoning and what you can do to prevent it.

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Symptoms

Did you know lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body? Lead exposure can be extremely detrimental, especially to children under the age of 6 and pregnant women.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a child experiencing lead exposure can have the following symptoms:

  • Behavioral issues and learning problems
  • Lower IQ and hyperactivity
  • Delayed growth and development
  • Hearing problems
  • Anemia
  • Seizures, coma or death in extreme cases

For pregnant women, the case is different but just as detrimental. Lead accumulates over time and stores inside bones, alongside calcium. During pregnancy, lead can pass from mother to fetus or to a breastfeeding infant. This can lead to the following:

  • Baby is born too early or too small
  • Issues with baby’s brain, nervous system or kidneys
  • Increase baby’s likelihood for behavioral problems and developmental issues
  • Put mother at risk for miscarriage

Lead is also harmful to other adults and can create the following issues:

  • Cardiovascular effects like increased blood pressure and incidence of hypertension
  • Decreased kidney function
  • Reproductive issues in men and women

Prevention

Some houses and facilities are at higher risk to lead exposure than others. If your home was built before 1978, it is possible that lead-based paints were used. Make sure to consult a certified lead inspector before undergoing renovations or alterations. (Learn more about addressing lead-based surfaces.)

Lead poisoning is preventable if the right actions are taken. Below are examples of steps from the EPA that you can take to lower your chances of lead exposure.

  • Regularly inspect and maintain all painted surfaces to prevent deterioration.
  • Keep your home clean, especially around painted areas where dust can accumulate, such as doors, windows and drawers.
  • Address water damage quickly.
  • If you’re undergoing home renovations, like repairs or painting, make sure your contractor is Lead-Safe Certified and using lead-safe work practices.

Some facilities are also susceptible to lead entering their drinking water due to corrosion of plumbing materials. You can test your water for lead, especially if the building has lead pipes or if it has non-plastic plumbing installed before 1986. Of course, you can always speak to any of Tioga’s several experts in hazardous building materials.

Tioga is committed to making sure your facility is lead-free and your next construction project is completed effectively and safely. Contact us for lead examinations and other environmental consultancy needs.