Lead 101: Things You Can DO...

** Note: This post has been added to on Feb. 2nd, w. more material about lead in water. It's in the P.S. at the bottom. I plan to blog more about lead (you can refer to 2 previous postings about it here & all lead-related posts are listed here), but in the meantime, just a couple quick things I want to say here.

I'm making my way ever-so-slowly through a whole pile of books right now.

One of these is Dodging the Toxic Bullet - How to Protect Yourself from Everyday Environmental Health Hazards, by David R. Boyd. It's very good!! Very worth reading...

He talks about lead on pages 132-134.

On Pg. 132 he comments, “For children, there is no safe level of exposure.”

On Pg. 133 he states “…lead continues to pose a threat in consumer products, including toys, crystal glassware, costume jewelry, hair dyes, mini-blinds, and makeup. … In the recent wave of unsafe products from China, many toys, infant bibs, and children’s lunch boxes were contaminated with high concentrations of lead.”

Also on Pg. 133, under ‘What You Can Do’:

  • “If you live in an older home (built before 1978) and paint is flaking, peeling, and cracking, or if you are considering renovations, have paint tested for lead content. Pay close attention to windowsills, which are exposed to the elements and subject to wear & tear. Any activity that creates fine debris-sanding or scraping-can dramatically increase the levels of lead in a home. Consider hiring a certified lead abatement contractor to remove lead paint (in the U.S. call 1-800-424-LEAD). Do not use belt sanders, propane torches, heat guns, dry scrapers, or sandpaper because they could create dust and fumes. Lead-based paint that is in good condition is not usually a hazard.

  • Eat meals rich in calcium, iron & vitamin C to help block the absorption and storage of lead in your body.

  • Do not store food or drinks in lead crystal glassware or imported pottery.

  • Stay up-to-date on recalls of lead-contaminated products. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov) issues recalls of products that could potentially expose children to lead. Health Canada (www.healthycanadians.gc.ca) and Australia (www.recalls.gov.au) provide a similar service.

  • Test your drinking water for lead (see Chapter 5). [Note: see below – fresh material from Ch. 5 has been added to this post.]

  • Consider having your children’s blood lead levels tested at age one & two if they have lived in or regularly visited homes built before 1950 with peeling paint or that had renovations completed within the past six months; have a sibling, housemate, or playmate being treated for lead poisoning; live with an adult who is exposed to lead at work or through hobby activities; or live near lead industries (e.g., lead smelter, battery-recycling plant) or a busy highway.

  • Locate vegetable gardens away from older buildings to avoid using soil contaminated by lead paint. If you live near a major road, test soil for lead before establishing a vegetable garden or build raised beds and purchase soil.”

Note: All this material just above from the book Dodging the Toxic Bullet - How to Protect Yourself from Everyday Environmental Health Hazards, by David R. Boyd.

I will very shortly post another item on lead, & have added lots to the resources document.


P.S. Here is what the author says in Chapter 5, about water:

Pg. 113 – Lead: Public water suppliers regularly test for lead. However, these tests are conducted on the water as it leaves the treatment facility rather than when it comes out of your tap. Lead from corroding pipes, solder, fixtures, faucets, and fittings can enter your water as it travels through the distribution system or the plumbing in your home. The amount of lead in your water depends on the types and quantities of minerals in the water, how long the water stays in the pipes, the amount of wear in the pipes, and the acidity and temperature of the water. Homes built before 1950 often have lead distribution lines and service connections, while homes built before 1986 may have lead in their plumbing systems. Recent tests in Washington, D.C., found that one in ten homes had lead in tap water at up to five times the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards. Similar tests in older homes in Toronto found more than half had lead levels above the acceptable level. If you are concerned about the possibility of lead in your drinking water, it’s best to test.


  • Remove any lead from your household plumbing and advocate for its removal from your water supplier’s distribution system.
  • Install a home water treatment system that uses an activated carbon filter, reverse osmosis, or distillation to remove lead. For best results, the system should be installed on all taps that are used for drinking water and be certified for the removal of lead by the NSF, Underwriters Laboratories (www.ul.com), or the Water Quality Association (www.wqa.org).
  • Do not boil water in an attempt to get rid of lead – boiling will actually increase lead concentrations.
  • Always use water from the cold tap rather than the hot tap for drinking, boiling, cooking, and mixing infant formula. Lead dissolves more easily in hot water.
  • Until you address the source of the lead in your water, do not drink the first water to come out of your tap, especially in the morning when the water has been in contact with the pipes overnight. Instead, flush your system by running the tap for several minutes and save this water for another use, such as watering houseplants.

Note: This has been quoted with permission from David R. Boyd, author of Dodging the Toxic Bullet – How to Protect Yourself from Everyday Environmental Health Hazards, Greystone Books, 2010.