Lead is dangerous to everyone, of course, but it is particularly hazardous for children. That’s why buildings such as schools and daycare centers need to take extra precautions to ensure that the children there are not exposed to lead. Bay Area buildings that were constructed prior to the 1980s may have lead-based paint , which must be professionally removed or contained to prevent a serious health hazard. Here’s what you need to know:
Damaged paint poses the biggest problem.
In many cases, the lead-based paint in a building has been painted over many times. If the paint remains intact and is not deteriorating, it usually does not pose an immediate health threat to anyone. In cases where the paint has started to deteriorate, or where it is weathering, peeling, or chipping, the risk of contact with lead is much higher. If your building was built before 1978, you should have it tested for possible lead presence.
High-contact areas are a concern.
Lead is most dangerous when it is in places that are frequently touched by people. In schools and daycare centers, these areas may include stair rails, doors, window sills, and porch railings. If a child puts his or her mouth on something that contains any quantity of lead, it can cause serious harm. Toys, bottles, and other objects that children use should always be washed if they have fallen on the ground.
Regular inspections are a must.
It’s important for schools and daycare centers to do periodic inspections for lead, focusing on the places that are most likely to contain it, such as painted walls and doors. Playground equipment, which is often painted, should also be inspected for possible lead. Even the soil in playgrounds should be checked for lead, as lead dust can easily be tracked there. Finally, all drinking water fountains should be tested for lead.