Lead Information Sheet
The detrimental health effects caused by lead poisoning have been well documented and understood for many years. Prior to 1976, lead based paints were in common use. While these paints have disappeared from paint store shelves, lead-based paints are a concern when renovating older buildings where such paints have been previously applied. Intact paint is stable and presents no problem. But eventually, it will start to peel and chip. It becomes hazardous when redecorating or during renovation when the paint is sanded or disturbed. As the leaded dust and chips are dispersed they can lodge in carpets and air ducts where they present a persistent source of health hazards. Scraping exterior paint contaminates the soil around the building and can be tracked inside the building.
Other Sources of Lead - Plumbing
Lead contamination can be a problem in plumbing where lead-tin solder has been used to join copper pipes. Other sources are from lead pipes and connectors or from brass fittings containing more than 8% lead. In these circumstances, lead leaches into the water, especially in newer fittings less than five years old. Where water is soft, acidic, or simply hot, the risk of leaching increases. Some electric water coolers have lead fittings and lead liners.
The Canadian maximum acceptable concentration of lead in drinking water is of 0.010 mg/L. Water sitting in the pipes overnight has been found to contain higher levels of lead. In some Ontario school districts, the guideline was exceeded in 45% of schools tested.
The Lead Hazard to Health
Lead in paint is considered to be the most common high-dose source of lead exposure to humans. You can't see, taste or smell lead. It is a particularly hazardous poison because it is cumulative in the human body. The symptoms of lead poisoning include a metallic taste in the mouth, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea and convulsions. Exposure to lower levels of lead is associated with tiredness, irritability, loss of appetite, reduced attention span, inability to sleep and digestive problems including constipation. Children are especially sensitive to lead and can be poisoned with small amounts resulting in impaired mental development long before doses reach levels causing illness or death.