Lead is a hot topic these days with water crisis in cities across the United States. Even if your water is safe, there can be lead hazards throughout your home, especially homes built before 1960, which may have lead paint. Lead may also be in soil, jewelry, toys, furniture, cosmetics and plumbing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood lead poisoning is one of the most preventable environmental maladies, but approximately half a million children in the United States have high blood lead levels. Long-term exposure can damage developing brains, bones and nearly all organ systems — often without any symptoms.
The best way to find out if your home is contaminated or if your kids are at risk is to test your home for lead and ask for a simple blood test to check each child’s lead levels. Many pediatricians perform this test routinely, but if you aren’t sure if your kids were tested or if your living situation has since changed, ask your doctor.
The Lead Safe America Foundation has partnered with 3M/LeadCheck to offer free LeadCheck lead-paint test kits to families in the United States who request them. These swab kits are best for testing painted surfaces in old homes, especially where the paint is worn or chipped. Paint with high lead content was most often used on doors, windows, trim, baseboards and exteriors of homes built before 1978.
LeadCheck swabs may also be used on household objects such as dishes, toys, and other surfaces, but due to the different materials used on these items, they may still contain unsafe levels of lead even if they test negative with the LeadCheck swabs. XRF tests are best for other surfaces, but can be expensive at a lab.
The LeadCheck swabs are not able to test for lead in water. Water testing kits are available at home improvement stores and can be sent to labs for analysis. For more information on lead in your home and prevention of exposure, read the EPA resource, Protect Your Family From Exposures to Lead.
Lead Safe America Foundation test kits are 100% funded by donations, so please consider making a tax-deductible contribution in support of this program if you request a free lead test kit. The test kits cost approximately $5 to send to each family. You can donate here.