When you know what to look for and take the proper precautions, lead poisoning is 100 percent preventable. Unfortunately, thousands of kids are still getting sick, according to Angie's List.
In observance of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (October 19th-25th), Angie's List has some times on how to keep your family protected.
Experts said lead paint lurks in 40-percent of the nation's homes, that's about 36 million homes across the United States.
Kids under the age of six are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect physical and mental development. They don't have to eat or chew lead-based paint chips to be poisoned. Most kids are poisoned when they breathe in or swallow lead dust.
“Especially if you live in a home that's built before 1978 you probably have older windows so every time you open those windows and close them, you might not see it, but it's happening inside those little crevices of the window," said Dollis Wright, Environmental Health Risk Expert.
Dangerous amounts of lead dust can also be created when lead-based paint is disturbed during renovation, repair or painting jobs. That's why federal law requires any contractor who disturbs lead paint to be EPA certified and follow strict work practices to prevent contamination.
“For example they should be using HEPA filters," said Angie Hicks, Angie's List. "They should be using plastic sheeting to completely seal off the area. They should also wear protective foot covers, protective clothing. If you see any signs that make you uncomfortable, you should stop the work immediately.”
In a recent sting, Angie's List called 150 renovation contractors and questioned them about lead-safe practices. Nearly 11 percent offered bad advice and nearly 32 percent admitted they did not have the required EPA lead-safety certification.
If you're planning a remodeling project, Angie's List says arm yourself with information and verify your contractor has the proper training. Wright said there is no cure for lead poisoning. So once your poisoned, it's for life.
Only a blood test can confirm lead poisoning. If you have concerns about lead exposure, push your child's doctor to do an evaluation.
Experts say if your house was built before 1978, assume the paint has lead in it unless tests show otherwise.