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Sunday, 16 February 2014

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Lead dust, a health hazard in house renovations

The Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) has cautioned householders caught up in the frenzy of renovating old houses, to beware of inhaling lead particles in the dust and air in the immediate vicinity.

"Lead levels in dust are rising beyond acceptable levels due to the renovation of old buildings in the city. This dust is toxic. When inhaled it can cause a serious health hazard", CEJ Technical Officer Ms Chalani Rubesinghe told the Sunday Observer. The normal standard for lead levels is around 40 micrograms per square foot.

"Although no study has been done in Sri Lanka so far, we feel the lead levels in dust have risen significantly polluting the immediate environment of many construction and renovation projects now under way", she said. She said the CEJ would shortly launch a study on Lead in Dust," the first of its kind", she said.

"Lead Dust is one of the main ways in which one's health, particularly children's health can be undermined," a health official said on the grounds of anonymity. The major effect on children would be on their IQ level since lead inhibits brain development and affects the kidney and liver.

Ms Rubesinghe said that young children chewed peeling paints because it was like chewing gum. "If they are leaded it is dangerous to their health", she said.

Lead dust on bare soil and grass was another health hazard. "Eliminate this hazard by growing another layer of grass over it. Also, don't scrape old paint off your walls for the dust to fall on the ground and soil. Simply paint over the entire surface using unleaded paint", she said.

House painters were a health risk to themselves and their families. "Change the clothes you wore while painting with leaded paint and wash them thoroughly. Use soap and water before you make physicial contact with family members", she said.

 

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