Your family could be at risk: The hidden dangers of lead

Lead can be used in two aspects of manufacturing -- paints and plastics

Last month, a report released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission revealed that toy injuries alone resulted in 185,000 visits to the emergency room.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Lead is invisible to the naked eye and has no smell, so it can be especially dangerous for babies and young children.

Levels of lead might be hidden in your child’s new toys from the holidays, and most often kids get lead poisoning from contact with lead-based paint.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are at least half a million kids in the United States with high lead levels found in their blood.

Lead was banned in house paint and on products marketed to children in the U.S. in 1978.

The CDC says it is still widely used in other countries and could potentially be found on imported toys or antique toys made before the ban.

If you suspect your child has been exposed to lead, the CDC recommends having their blood tested immediately.

“Lead poisoning will take a while. You will start to see things with your child — developmental delays, constipation, mood changes. But to really know you need to have your child tested,” said Rita Spahlinger from the Trumbull County Health Department.

Lead is especially dangerous to kids under the age of six. At this stage, their brains are more sensitive to the damaging effects.

But, lead in toys is just one of the many ways lead can get in to the body.

In general, the older your home the more likely it has lead-based paint in it. Sometimes, it can even be buried under layers of new paint.

In 1978, the government banned the use of lead-based paint in homes. So, if the building was built before the ban you and your family could be at risk.

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends having your home checked by a certified inspector.

The agency says if the paint is in good shape it’s usually not a problem, but when the paint has started to deteriorate – peeling, chipping or cracking – then it needs attention.

When it comes to buying and selling older homes, home buyers and renters have the right to know whether lead is present before contracts are signed.

“The lead-based paint is a federal disclosure that the seller is required to fill out. If they have any known knowledge of lead in their home or any reports of lead-based paint in their home, then they’re required to disclose that to buyers,” said Sue Filipovich of the Youngstown Columbiana Association of Realtors.

If you do have lead-based paint in your home, the health department recommends keeping the paint smooth during any renovations.

If it starts to crack or flake then you should have it fixed or removed by a professional.

If you think your home has lead the EPA suggests to have your family tested immediately.

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