Lead occurs as an element in nature. Once it is mined, processed and introduced into our environment, it can be a potential problem. Proper disposal of lead is essential in helping to control the disease known as lead poisoning.
THE MOST COMMON SOURCE OF LEAD POISONING
It is estimated that approximately l9% of all childhood lead poisoning is attributed to lead in paint. Children are exposed to the paint through chips, and through tiny particles that are found in the soil and in normal household dust.
Paint that is presently manufactured or sold for use in homes cannot contain more than a trace of lead. However, six million tons of lead-based paints were used in housing in this country before it was banned in the l970's. Lead-based paint was considered the best quality paint and was used by owners and landlords who were most conscientious about the upkeep of their property. In fact, one of the selling points of exterior lead based paint was that it would "chalk" which means that the outer layer would gradually wear away, exposing a fresh underlayer that would keep that paint looking newer for a longer period of time. These tiny chalk particles would then contaminate the soil and be tracked or blown into the home. Thus all lead paint represents a potential hazard, although the greatest risk to children today occurs in homes where old paint is deteriorating, or where paint is being disturbed in the process of renovating old homes. The deteriorating paint can be found on mostly windows, doors, mouldings and also anti-corrosive lead paint can be found on steel structures such as fire-escapes.
Suprisingly enough, it is not necessary for children to eat paint chips in order to become poisoned. Children are more likely to become poisoned by tiny particles of lead. As a part of normal development, young children put everything into their mouths including their hands, toys and other items that may be contaminated through normal household dust. It is unrealistic, and would be undesirable in any case, for parents to supervise their children constantly to avoid exposure to lead. The only completely safe way to protect children is to remove the primary sources of lead from their environment.