Lead Paint Myth: Eating Paint Chips Is the Only Way to Get Lead Poisoning

May 12, 2023 8:43 am

In the late 70’s the federal government banned lead paint because of its human health risks. Since then, it’s been widely understood that lead paint causes physical and neurological damage when ingested. While that’s true, many households still don’t realize that eating paint chips is not the only way people can get lead poisoning. In this guide, we’ll bust that myth, so you can learn more ways to prevent lead poisoning.

How Are Paint Chips Dangerous?

Although lead is a natural part of the earth, the human body is not meant to be exposed to it past a certain level. Lead was once a common ingredient in paint because of its durability, moisture-resistance, and short drying time. Today, many older homes and buildings have layers of lead paint hidden beneath newer coats of paint. As this paint deteriorates, young children who are naturally curious end up with lead-filled paint chips in their mouths.

As an adult, you might think lead poisoning isn’t a concern for you, since you’ve outgrown this curiosity. In reality, there are other ways to get lead poisoning.

Common Causes of Lead Poisoning

High exposure to lead poses permanent risks to both the digestive and respiratory systems. We tend to take caution with the digestive system, making sure children don’t chew on painted window sills, door frames, banisters, and railings.

But what about the respiratory system? Even without swallowing paint, we are at risk of breathing in lead particles. Lead paint that is completely intact isn’t necessarily the issue. Deteriorating paint that turns into almost-invisible particles is the main concern.

Here are three ways deteriorating lead paint can make its way into your body:

Cause #1: Lead-Contaminated Soil

Soil can become contaminated through waterways or old industrial buildings. This soil can lead to lead poisoning through:

  • Hand-to-mouth activity among children
  • Eating vegetables grown in contaminated soil
  • Tracking contaminated soil into your home through your shoes

Cause #2: Lead-Contaminated Dust

Dust is contaminated when it originates as lead-filled soil or paint. This dust can lead to lead poisoning through:

  • Deteriorating paint on various surfaces
  • Renovations and other home repairs
  • Clothing that gets covered with lead dust at a job site

Cause #3: Lead-Contaminated Products

Products that were manufactured before the lead paint ban are riskier than modern products. For example:

  • Plastic or wooden children’s toys painted with lead-based paint
  • Plastic or wooden home antique furniture and accessories

As you can see, it’s extremely important to prevent high lead exposure by staying aware of what you and your family are swallowing, touching, breathing, and stepping in. You can take further precautions by consulting a lead-based paint expert, so you don’t put your household at risk of lead poisoning.

At LEW Environmental, we provide lead paint remediation and testing throughout New York City, New Jersey, and Long Island. Contact us today to get started.

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