03 September 2012

The Dangers of Lead Paint {Our Story}

Lead dust may be lingering in your home or apartment if it was built before 1978. Lead is highly toxic, especially to pregnant woman and children. It only takes a pinch of lead dust to cause problems.

The reason I am discussing this is because we just recently discovered lead paint in a few of the window sills of our apartment, including the two windows in our children’s room. The home we live in was built in the 1940’s. Red flags right there! Sadly we didn’t know much about this topic until recently. We noticed the windows were chipping badly. When we looked into it some more, we found we could get an at home lead test kit. I want to thank Tamara Rubin, the director and producer of MISLEAD: America's Secret Epidemic, a documentary about lead poisoning. She was kind enough to send us a reliable testing kit. When the results came back positive we called the health department and it took us on quite a journey…
Chipping lead paint
With no surprise the health department found high levels of lead in several of the windows and sent a letter to our landlords. In the state of New York, they require that they remove or cover up the lead by a certain date or pay heavy fines. It turns out that this isn’t the first time the landlords have had to take care of lead paint in one of their apartments. They got right on it and gave us a whopping 24 hour notice to vacate for the day. So we went to the zoo. Assuming this was past us; we got home with our boys and prepared dinner. At closer inspection we found paint chips all over the floor, in the crib and paint on their dresser and our shower curtain in the bathroom!

Violation #1: They did not seal off the area.
Violation #2: They didn’t cover anything.
Violation #3: They didn’t vacuum the area.

We freaked out. We know the dangers of lead dust. As we scoped out the rest of the house we found paint chips tracked all the way to the living room where our 8 month old was crawling around on the floor (and would happily put the chips into his mouth). We were out of there as soon as we could. We stayed in a hotel for the night. (Don’t worry, we are sending the landlords the bill.) We spoke with the landlord who swore they were certified and didn’t scrap any of the paint, yet she hadn’t even been there. We were corresponding with her by phone.

Lead test kit we used
The next day my husband went to the house to let the workers in to finish the job. He went red faced and ready to ream them out. They gave him attitude. Their story didn’t sync up with the landlords. My husband gave them a piece of his mind and told them to do it right this time. Go Matt!

We had to leave the hotel by 11, so we went to my parents. By the time we got the green light to go home it was late. We ended up staying there for the night because we didn’t want to have to re-inspect the place before placing our children in their beds. The whole time our poor kitty was stuck in one room too. :(

The next day Matt went home before us to check everything out. I made sure to wipe everything down and washed the bed sheets and curtains. The health inspector came again to check and so far so good. The strange thing is, we went through all this trouble for them to slap on one coat of paint… This isn’t a permanent solution. The paint is going to start chipping again by next summer! We must continue to clean the window sills often and probably shouldn’t even open the windows at all so we don’t release dust. I am disappointed in our landlords for not informing us of this when we moved in (knowing we had a child on the way at the time) and for taking the easy way out. ::sigh::

We’ve learned quite a bit about lead paint safety and I want to pass this information on to you. I hope my story will help other. We are some of the fortunate ones. Our children didn’t suffer any harm from all of this. Some are not so lucky. Please visit MISLEAD: America's Secret Epidemic on facebook to learn more about lead safety and to ask questions. If you know someone who lives in an older home or apartment please inform them!

Here are some tips for dealing with lead dust:
  • Wipe the window sills and areas with cracked/chipped paint with a wet wipe at least once a week
  • Don’t open the windows or let your children near them
  • Vacuum regularly with a HEPA filter vacuum.
  • Make sure your children wash their hands before each meal.
  • Wash toys regularly with dish soap and vinegar.

Have you ever dealt with lead paint in your home?

Has your child ever tested high for lead?