Is Lead Paint a Concern for Adults?

Is Lead Paint a Concern for Adults?

My wife and I are moving from our house into an older condominium. It’s charming, but should we be concerned about lead paint?

Your confusion is understandable. Most information about lead paint toxicity concerns exposure in children, who are at higher risk because they are smaller, still developing and are more likely to ingest lead by putting their fingers and toys in their mouths. Still, lead can be dangerous for adults, too. As with children, the severity of symptoms depends upon the level of exposure.

The typical blood lead level for adults is under 10 ug/dL. Most adults with elevated levels of lead in their blood (25 ug/dL to 40 ug/dL) work in industries in which they are exposed to lead regularly—construction workers, steel welders, remodelers and refinishers, for example. But lead can still be present in water, soil, in the air and on older painted surfaces. Although lead paint has been banned in the US since 1978, the dust from old paint can become airborne when you scrape down surfaces to repaint or if you remodel. Your previous owner (or the landlord, if you are renting) is obligated to tell you if there is any known information about the presence of lead-based paint in the building.

Why it’s dangerous: Lead accumulates in the bones and is then released through the blood to other parts of the body (especially as we age and bones thin), increasing risk for anemia, high blood pressure, nerve damage, decreased kidney function and reproductive issues (such as reduced sperm count in men and greater risk for miscarriage in women). Lead toxicity can contribute to memory loss, too.

My suggestion: Use a test kit to test for the presence of lead paint, especially if you plan to repaint or remodel. (You can buy a kit such as the 3M LeadCheck at a hardware store for under $25.) If you detect lead paint, make sure you or your contractor follows all safety guidelines for dealing with lead dust, such as sealing the room by closing the door or tacking up plastic sheeting, turning off air-conditioning and heat and covering the vents with plastic, and wet washing surfaces instead of dusting. Be sure to get a blood test after the remodel. If lead levels are high, you may need further blood testing or urinalysis to determine the extent of exposure. With very high levels of exposure (over 80 ug/dL, for example), your doctor may recommend chelation therapy (a process that removes metals from the blood).

Editor’s note: Check out this article to see which minerals can help prevent your body from absorbing lead.

Source: Hyla Cass, MD, psychiatrist, author and integrative medicine practitioner, Los Angeles. She is author of The Addicted Brain and How to Break Free. Date: January 24, 2018 Publication: Bottom Line Health

Reprinted from Bottom Line health

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