A toxic legacy that demands the attention of all pregnant women and parents of young children.
Lead in pre-1978 paint remains a dangerous source of lead. Advice from the federal government about lead exposure refers to avoiding lead in pre-1960 homes. While lead levels were highest before 1960, lead levels in paint remained at dangerous levels until 1978. Indeed, Canadian regulations did not apply to exterior paint until the late 1990s. The most precautionary approach is to follow advice about lead paint abatement for any buildings built before 1978. Advice to parents provided by federal agencies in the United States and NGOs in the US and Canada is more precautionary. In Canada, any exterior paint applied until at least the end of the 1980s may also be lead-contaminated. Ensure that young children do not play in the soil in the "drip-line" around an older home, especially alongside painted porches, staircases and windows.
Studies from the US and Canada commonly find small amounts of pesticides and heavy metals in indoor dust. These substances come from indoor sources and are also tracked in from outdoors. Lead from old paint is a big concern. About 50 percent of the daily lead intake of two-year old urban children comes from house dust through normal hand-to-mouth behaviour. Lead can build up in house dust through normal wear and tear of both indoor and outdoor painted surfaces. During renovations extremely high levels of lead can occur in dust and can create very dangerous lead exposures for children and pregnant women (the concern here is exposure to the fetus).
Fact Sheets, Publications, On-line Resources
In the CPCHE Child Health and the Environment Primer, see in particular the Environmental Childproofing Top Ten List, in Chapter Six.