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",
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.