Lead has serious health, safety & environmental issues related to it. Canada Mortgage & Housing (CMHC) states that lead is what is known as a neurotoxicant or a brain poison. Even in very small amounts, lead can harm the developing brain and nervous system of fetuses and young children, which can lead to behavioural and learning difficulties. Lead can also interfere with the way that hemoglobin (the oxygen carrying part of blood) is produced. Lead can disturb processes essential to vitamin D and calcium metabolism. Chronic, or long-term lead exposure, can lead to high blood pressure and peripheral vascular disease.
Humans are being exposed to lead from numerous sources including, paint pigments, automobile and industrial emissions, surface and ground water, and some forms of solder. Common household examples of where lead may be found include:
- water, water supply pipes, solder joints for water supply pipes
- pottery & ceramics (most commonly form Mexico and Italy)
- soil & dust
- food cans
- inexpensive imported mini-blinds have been found to be lead contaminated
The level of exposure to lead by the general public to lead has significantly decreased over in the past decades due to restrictions in the use of lead as an additive in gasoline, paint and solder. It is generally agreed that there is no safe level of lead exposure, although risk of suffering adverse health effects from lead poisoning exposure will decline as exposure declines.
For the most part, in Canada:
- Lead in paint was reduced or eliminated in the mid 1970s. It is best to assume that a dwelling constructed before 1960 contains leaded paint.
- Lead in solder, used for tin cans and drinking water pipes, was reduced or eliminated in the mid to late 1980s.
- Lead additives in gasoline were eliminated for most applications in the early 1990s.
There may be potential liabilities associated with homes containing lead e.g. they may have a stigma attached to them that may affect the value of the home perhaps; and, there may be costs associated with any removal / disposal of lead. If present, remedial action may be required that can be costly in some instances, for example, based on the quantities present, its’ location, etc.
If you’re concerned about lead in your home or building, consult a professional.