One of the easiest first steps we can all take to address the dangers of lead poisoning is to understand how to identify it, the health risks it poses, and which groups are particularly susceptible to exposure. The majority of our housing stock was built before 1978 and is likely to contain lead. We know that lead poisoning occurs more frequently in households under the federal poverty level and in small-scale rental properties, and it disproportionately affects our communities of color that have long faced affordable housing inequity, neighborhood disinvestment, and discrimination when trying to find safe, healthy places to live.
Although there are certainly concerns about homes with chipping paint, young children are exposed to lead-contaminated dust primarily from friction surfaces such as doors and windows when they crawl on floors and engage in normal hand-to-mouth behaviors. Pregnant women and children under six are the most susceptible to lead poisoning’s debilitating effects.