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Oct. 24-30 is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, which was launched to spread awareness of the dangers of lead exposure and ways to maximize prevention. In construction and development, lead can be found in a variety of building materials and is especially prevalent in older buildings and structures. Additionally, lead exposure can be detrimental to people’s health, especially among young children. According to the Mayo Clinic, side effects of lead exposure or poisoning among children include developmental delay and learning difficulties. Among adults, side effects include high blood pressure, joint and muscle pain, difficulty with memory or concentration, and infertility.

If you’re unsure if lead will impact your upcoming facility renovation project or exists in your home or neighborhood, we’ve answered some common questions.

Where can I find lead indoors?
Paint is one of the most common indoor sources of lead exposure. Thankfully, lead-based paints were banned from homes built in the United States after 1978. Older facilities are likely to still contain traces of lead. If you’re considering a demolition, renovation or modernization project, a hazardous building materials assessment will be necessary. 

Traces of lead can also be found in tap water. If you’re in an older facility, the water pipes may be made of lead. Even if it has copper pipes, they may be soldered with lead. If you’re unsure, never drink from the tap and instead use or install a filter, such as an ion exchange, reverse osmosis or distillation filter, to effectively remove lead.

Where can I find lead outdoors?
They tell us when we’re young that “a little dirt don’t hurt!” But unfortunately, lead can be found outdoors, including in playgrounds, parks and our backyards. Oftentimes, lead particles in contaminants like gasoline and paint can settle into soil. Brownfields may have traces of lead, even if the property hasn’t been in operation for several years. This is mostly common on former industrial facilities sites. If there is a reason to suspect a presence of lead, then soil sampling should be performed before any dirt gets moved around, and if there is a presence, specific steps for removal or mitigation will be required.

What else should I know about lead?
There are several reliable sources about lead poisoning prevention.

While we enjoy partaking in National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week each October and sharing information with our clients, colleagues and friends, we also hope you join us in these practices year-round. For your next project or before you purchase a commercial or industrial property, contact Tioga for a lead-based paint assessment and a Phase I ESA.