Lead may be a useful heavy metal, but it is also very toxic. The presence of lead in the human body can interfere with the proper functioning of many bodily organs, especially the nervous system. Lead poisoning among children, in particular, can result in the abnormal development of their nervous system, or even death. A major source of exposure to lead in the home is through lead paint, especially in homes, toys, and furniture made before 1978 and during the early 80’s. Knowing how to detect lead paint can help prevent lead poisoning in both children and adults. This article explains some tips on how to check for lead paint.
The first thing that you can do is to find out the year that the house, toy, or furniture was made. If it was manufactured before 1978 or during the early 80’s, the paint most likely contains lead. Before 1978, lead was a major ingredient in many paint formulations. So, if your house is old, knowing the building year can help you check the possibility of having lead contamination in your very own home. Old houses and furniture with peeling paint are especially dangerous.
If your house is recently built, it most probably is free of lead contamination. But, you might want to be sure, as the consequences of lead poisoning can be fatal. You can use home test kits to detect lead in paint. Many are available on the Internet and local hardware stores. The price range of such kits is around 9 dollars to 40 dollars. A testing kit usually comes with swabs used for applying the reagent.
Home testing kits use chemicals that react in the presence of lead. The chemicals are generally non-toxic. Although the procedures for administering the test can vary from kit to kit, the general procedure involves several easy-to-do steps. First, locate a painted area in the house that you suspect to have the oldest paint. Then, using a sharp instrument such as a cutter or utility knife, carve a V-shaped notch on the painted surface such that the underlying layers of paint will be exposed.
Afterwards, apply the reagent chemicals to the exposed area using the swabs provided in the kit. Follow the step-by-step instructions for using the kit, or else you can get an inaccurate result. Generally, the swab will change color (usually pink or red) if lead is detected in the exposed area. For good measure, repeat the test in different areas of the house.
You can also ask the local health department for lead testing programs. Such tests are performed in a laboratory with sophisticated instruments that can accurately test not just the presence of lead in the submitted sample but also the level or amount of lead. Knowing the specifics can help you make wiser decisions.
Testing for lead in your home needs some time to perform and some effort. Using testing kits can also involve shelling out some money. But, this is a very small price to pay compared to the fatal dangers of lead poisoning.