Planning a home remodel? Take note: An estimated 535,000 (2.6 percent) of U. S. children ages 1 to 5 years have blood lead levels greater than or equal to the reference value of 5 micrograms per deciliter, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lead-laced paint chips and dust kicked up during renovation projects is a common source of contamination.
If your home was built before 1978, lead is likely present. The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of approved do-it-yourself lead test kits, which are a first step toward understanding potential lead poisoning risks in your home. Especially if you're planning a major renovation, you should work with a certified professional by contacting your state or local agency at 800-424-LEAD. Any professional you hire is required by law to follow the EPA's Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule, which ensures that any harmful dust be properly contained.
Drinking water is another potential source of lead poisoning, in particular in homes with lead plumbing. Consumer Reports has tested nearly 50 water filters, from inexpensive carafes costing as little as $15 to sophisticated reverse-osmosis systems that cost more than $1,000 to purchase and maintain, but that will capture lead along with other potential contaminants.
The EPA-approved lead test kits include 3M LeadCheck and D-Lead. For more information, read the full CDC report.