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Nadine Wimmer ReportingHealth officials are seeing a resurging safety problem often associated with our parents' generation. Trouble is, few parents in this generation realize they still need to protect their children from a danger in their own home.
Lead paint. Most of us don't even think about it, but in parts of Salt Lake County more than half of the homes could have lead paint. And as young families move in, few realize the threat for young children.
Becca: “The thought never even crossed my mind that there was a problem or that there was even an issue."
This young mom would never have guessed the greatest environmental hazard facing her children was right in their kitchen.
Becca: “This is where, usually this table is pulled right up. And this is where all the kids like to sit and eat and play in this windowsill. And six months ago, it was covered in lead paint, and i had no idea."
She was horrified to learn she had unknowingly made the problem worse.
Becca: “There was chipping paint all around it. So I started sanding it. And that's when my husband said, ‘You've got to stop, I think that may be lead paint."
Carina Elsenboss, Salt Lake County Health Dept.: “People buy these charming homes, these bungalows, and older homes and start remodeling. And some of these practices like sanding and stripping away the paint are causing a problem and harming their children because it's causing lead dust."
Tests confirmed the paint was lead, so they had their children’s blood tested. T their relief, the children were fine. But Salt Lake County health workers have seen close to 180 kids in recent years with elevated lead levels.
Carina Elsenboss: “We're really concerned because once it gets into the child's body, either they're playing with a toy that has lead dust and they put it in their mouth, once it gets in their body, it can cause behavioral problems."
A lot of homes have lead paint. That's not the problem by itself, as long as the paint isn't chipping. But you might want to take a look at your base boards, they can get chipped and dinged more easily.
Here's how to know if you're at risk: If you have a home built before 1978, you have kids under the age of six, and you have chipping paint or you've done remodeling.
If this could be your family, clean the dust from your home and children's toys often with a wet rag. Wash their hands and face often. You may want to call your pediatrician, and learn about safe remodeling or upkeep.
Carina Elsenboss: "It is extremely preventable, that's the great thing."
If you live within Salt Lake County, they offer a free program, that includes home inspection and in some cases, financial assistance to help make improvements.