Tag Archive: environmental hazards


The house currently under our consideration was built in 1950, though many of the fixtures are remanent of a 1940s style.  I love the door handles and the bathroom tile.  The hardwood floors are in great shape as is much of the original plaster.  There are two fireplaces original to the home and a beautiful, delicate banister descending into a foyer flanked on two sides with two small, inset closets.  

While Erick looks at this house and sees work (I believe he calls it the monstrosity), I (in all my sophistication and love of older homes) recognize the value inherent in preserving a piece of history for future generations to enjoy.  The other day, we were discussing the possibility of getting this home on the historic registry.  Erick scoffed.  After some research this morning into asbestos and lead-paint contamination (oh, the joys of home-ownership), I discovered by chance an article on George W. Bush.  At first I thought someone was trying to uncover the root of his ignorance – perchance caused by exposure to environmental hazards in his youth, but that would only explain Jrs. generation, so I read further.  

Okay that last part is harsh and I owe my discovery to President Bush, or at least his fame or infamy.  You see, Bush’s childhood home was built in 1950 and is now one of the first being considered for a federal history project.  While my own 1950s “monstrosity” may not carry with it the weight of a current president, this declaration of presumed historic relevance sets a precedent for future restoration projects and subsequent tax breaks for home-owners.

Advertisements

I’ve been doing some research of late into lead paint because we’re considering buying a home built in 1950.  We’ll be performing a test on Thursday to determine whether materials in the home are coated in paint containing lead.  Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against us.  Homes built prior to 1978 are likely to contain elevated levels of lead paint and those built prior to 1950 are all likely contain some lead-based products.  Even homes with copper plumbing might have been soldered together with solder containing lead.  

Lead is absorbed into the body in the same manner as other minerals and nutrients, so the body sends the toxin directly to our brains and other vital organs.  Consequently, children are far more likely to suffer elevated levels of lead since their growing bodies are taking in more nutrients than their adult counterparts.  One way to reduce exposure to lead is to ensure a healthy diet rich in calcium and iron.  

Lead has been blamed for the downfall of the Roman civilization.  Romans used the highly-pliable metal to mold pipes which carried water to the people.  In fact, the word “plumbing” comes from the Greek word, plumbum, for lead.  Lead has also been implicated in the loss a few IQ points for we Generation X folk due to exposure to lead used commonly throughout the first part of the last century on everything from toys to homes to public buildings to plumbing and gasoline.   

Lead paint cannot be painted over except with pain designed specifically to encapsulate the lead-paint layer(s).  High areas of friction generate lead dust which enters the air and may be absorbed by humans and other animals living inside the home.  Lead dust must be wiped away with a cleanser; vacuuming dust will only throw more particles into the air.  Lead does not break down, so it is as toxic today as the day it was mined.  Left undisturbed, lead-based paint should not pose a direct danger. Lead may be present in your soil – especially if your home (or a nearby residence) has recently been repainted or power-washed. If you live in a home built prior to 1978, have your blood checked to determine lead-levels in your body.  If you have children, it is recommended you have them tested also.  

From the CDC.gov (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

For children at risk for lead exposure, a simple blood test can prevent a lifetime spoiled by the irreversible damage caused by lead poisoning.
     
  One of the most important risk factors for lead exposure is the age of housing. Over 80 percent of all homes built before 1978 in the U.S. have lead-based paint in them. The older the house, the more likely it is to contain lead-based paint and a higher concentration of lead in the paint.
     
  According to recent CDC estimates, 890,000 U.S. children age 1-5 have elevated blood lead levels, and more than one-fifth of African-American children living in housing built before 1946 have elevated blood lead levels. These figures reflect the major sources of lead exposure: deteriorated paint in older housing, and dust and soil that are contaminated with lead from old paint and from past emissions of leaded gasoline.
     
  Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and at very high levels, seizures, coma and even death.
     
  Children between 12 and 36 months of age have a lot of hand to mouth activity, so if there is lead in their homes, they are more likely to take it in than are older children.
     
    For more information, talk to your pediatrician or call theNational Lead Information Clearinghouse toll-free at 1-800-424-LEAD (1-800-424-5323).