Lead is a bluish-gray, soft metallic element used in many household and industrial items from brass fixtures to batteries, and fine crystal to paint. Following are some characteristics of lead:
- Lead will not rust, oxidizes at an extremely slow rate, it will exist for a very long time in a solid state.
- Lead was used as a pigment and drying agent in “alkyd” (oil based) paint. Note: “Latex” (water based) paint, generally does not contain lead.
- Lead melts at a very low temperature and solidifies rapidly which makes it ideal for use in solder.
- Lead cannot be penetrated by X-rays.
- Lead is extremely malleable and can be drilled or sawn easily.
- There is no economical metal heavier than lead.
- Lead is not easily corroded and is ideal for car batteries and lining tanks which contain corrosive liquids. It is also used to protect metal wires and steel structures from corrosion.
Lead can be found in:
- Soil: If the soil around your home is likely to be lead-contaminated, plant grass or other ground cover. If lead-based paint is the source of soil contamination, most lead will be near painted surfaces such as exterior walls. In such cases, plant bushes next to the house to keep children away. If your soil is contaminated with lead, provide a sandbox with a solid bottom, top cover, and clean sand for your child to play and dig in. Wash children’s hands when they come inside from playing outdoors. To avoid tracking in lead from soil, clean shoes before entering home.
- Renovations and Remodeling: If your house was built prior to 1978, test the paint in your home before doing any renovation or remodeling of painted surfaces. If lead is detected, take all necessary precautions to ensure that leaded paint is removed in a safe manner.
- Water: If the lead content in your tap water is higher than the drinking water standard, let the water run for several minutes before using it. Use only fully-flushed water from the cold water tap for drinking and cooking.
- Food: Do not store food in open cans, especially imported cans. Do not store or serve food in pottery that is meant for decorative use only. Do not store wine or other alcoholic beverages in leaded crystal decanters or other lead crystal containers.
- Work or hobbies: If you or others in your family work with lead, make sure that any lead-contaminated clothing is handled safely and washed separately from household laundry. Keep work areas away from any areas where children are present. Use proper respiratory protection any time you are working with lead.