Lead has been used by the human race for centuries. The earliest recorded
use of lead was in ancient Turkey, around 6,500 BCE. It can cause nervous
system and kidney damage, stunted growth, reproductive issues, and delayed
development. People discovered its toxic effects as early as 2,000 BCE
but continued to work with it despite this knowledge. Lead has been added
to paint, because it increases drying speed and durability, retains a
fresh appearance, and deters moisture buildup. While many countries have
banned the use of lead in paint, such as the United States in 1978, some
countries still add it to many products. Lead can be hidden in various
places. Keep a vigilant eye on the following areas:
1. Road Markings
Historically, yellow road paint contained lead chromate in order to maintain
the bright color and prevent moisture from destroying the marking. While
lead was outlawed in the 1970s, very old paint might still have it. The
Department of Ecology in Washington also did random tests on more contemporary
traffic paint, checking yellow traffic lines to verify no high amounts
of lead were present. While it found traces of lead in all samples, they
were small enough to be considered below the level of detection.
2. Houses Built Before 1978
All buildings constructed and painted before the lead ban could be contaminated
with lead. If the paint is smooth and unmarked, you and your children
will be unaffected, but broken and peeling paint releases particles into
the air and creates a hazard for smaller kids.
White lead paint was widely used by artists until the twentieth century,
as it was the only oil pigment of that color available. Older works of
art are more likely have it than more modern works of art, because zinc
and titanium replaced lead as the base. Some artists continue to use it
today, as it has a particularly unique structure.
While the United States has a particular limit on the amount of lead used
in paint, not all countries do. For example, in 2007, about 967,000 Fisher-Price
toys in the United States were recalled (manufactured in China) because
the surface paints allegedly had excessive lead levels. They later paid
a $2.3 million civil penalty for violating the 1978 ban.
Just last year, a New Jersey spice company, Gel Spice Inc., recalled several
of their turmeric products. A routine sampling done by the New York State
Department of Agriculture and Markets found increased presence of lead
in the turmeric.
6. Drinking Water
Water pipes built in the early 1900s often used lead in their construction
because it was cheap and easy to shape. If various acidic contaminants
are present in the water, the lead is allowed to seep into the same liquid
that comes out of kitchen sinks, showers, and drinking fountains. Most
cities treat the water to some degree until lead levels are considered
“acceptable,” but no older systems are entirely lead-free.
Timeworn and leeching lead pipes resulted in the Flint water crisis, when
poorly treated and corrosive water exposed more than 100,000 people to
high amounts of lead.
7. Home Remedies
Certain imported home remedies and cosmetics could have traces of lead,
especially if the country of origin has lax or nonexistent lead testing.
A Mexican folk remedy called azarcon (lead tetroxide) has been used by
some to alleviate digestive symptoms, but can be deadly. Another treatment
of South Asian origin, ghasard, is also used to combat indigestion and
contains dangerous levels of lead.
If you think you or your loved ones have been exposed to lead,
contact one of our Philadelphia
personal injury attorneys for a free case consultation. You may be entitled to compensation.