National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is October 23-29th

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is October 23-29th, 2011.  Children under age 6 are most at risk for lead poisoning.  You can prevent lead poisoning by getting your home tested, getting your child tested and getting the facts.

  • Lead is a metal that is found in many places.  You can’t always see lead, even when it is present in substances like paint, dust, or dirt.
  • Lead in the body is not safe at any level.  It only takes a very small amount to cause damage.
  • Childhood lead poisoning can lead to life-long health problems, including learning disabilities, increased need for special education and higher crime rates.  Lead harms the brain, making it harder for children to learn and can cause behavioral problems.
  • Most children do not have any physical symptoms.  Warning signs include:  stomach pains, constipation, poor appetite, sleep problems, irritability, headaches, weakness, or loss of a recently learned skill.
  • Children are most often exposed to lead in their home and at places they visit.
  • Lead was added to paint until 1978.
  • In housing built before 1978, assume that the paint has led unless tests show otherwise.
  • Children eat lead by getting lead on their hands and then putting their hands in their mouth.
  • Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chew-able surfaces painted with lead-based paint by creating barriers between living/play areas and lead sources.  You can temporarily apply contact paper or duct tape to cover spaces with sources of lead.
  • Regularly wash your children’s hands and toys.  Both can become contaminated from household dust or exterior soil.
  • Regularly wet-mop floors and wet-wipe windows–dry-dust, sweeping or vacuuming will spread lead dust.
  • Wipe dirt off shoes before coming inside your home.
  • Whenever new exposures to lead may have occurred, have your child tested.
  • DO NOT disturb paint without protecting your family from the dust that occurs during abatement.
  • Feed your child 3 healthy meals a day–a diet high in iron, calcium and Vitamin C will help fight any lead in a child’s body.
  • Do not use pottery for cooking or serving until you are sure of its glaze.  Pottery can be contaminated with lead.
  • Draw drinking water and cooking water only from the cold tap.  Let it run for a few minutes first.
  • Teach your child to wash their hands before eating.

The City of Chicago provides FREE lead inspections to homes with children under 6 years old and/or with children under 6 who frequently visit, call 311 and ask for lead inspection TODAY.

For information about tenants’ rights: call Megan Borneman, MTO Healthy Homes Organizer… 773-292-4980 ext. 231

For resources available to Chicago residents:  call the Chicago Department of Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention… 312-747-LEAD (5323)

For resources available to non-Chicago residents in Cook County:  call the Cook County Lead Prevention Program… 708-492-2076

Extremely High Levels of Lead Detected in Pilsen Air

MTO’s offices are located directly across the street from the Fisk Generating Station and very near Perez Elementary School.

New monitoring data obtained by the Tribune reveal that high levels of toxic lead frequently lingered in the air last year outside an elementary school in the predominantly Latino enclave that is attended by nearly 500 children.

Average lead levels at Perez Elementary School were at or above federal limits during three three-month periods in 2010, the data show. Lead pollution exceeded health standards during a fifth of the days monitored and, on one day in December, spiked more than 10 times higher — findings that alarm even veteran investigators.

Read more here at

Lead – FAQ

What is lead poisoning?
Lead is a poison that impacts everyone, especially children ages 6 years and younger. Lead can harm the brain, nerves, kidneys, digestive system, hearing and cause muscle and joint problems. Even at low levels, lead can affect cognitive abilities causing a lower IQ and learning disabilities. The effects of lead on the body and brain are irreversible.

How is lead related to your home? flaking-paint-window
Lead was used in paint prior to 1978. Most homes built prior to 1978 have some lead in them. Over 70% of homes in Chicago were built before 1978. Paint made prior to 1950 was especially high in lead. The older the home, is the greater the potential for lead hazards. Invisible lead dust, not paint chips, are the main source of lead poisoning. Windows and porches are the most likely sources of lead hazards in your home.

Are there other sources of lead around my home?
Yes. Soil in and around your home may contain lead. In older homes, some water pipes may contain lead.

What if I have lead paint in my apartment?
Most apartments built prior to 1978 have lead paint. Lead paint becomes hazardous when it is disturbed by friction, impact and moisture which causes the paint to break down into dust. If you suspect your apartment has a lead hazard (ie. chipping paint) call the Renter’s Hotline for more information. If there is a child aged 6 or under residing in the home, you may enroll in the free Safe and Healthy Homes program for personalized information on how to prevent lead poisoning in your home.

What should I do if there is a lead hazard in my unit?
Inform the landlord. Call the Renter’s Hotline [link]. Call the city of Chicago’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention program at 312.747.LEAD[5323]. You may request an inspection. The Department of Health has several programs that may provide financial assistance to landlords or homeowners seeking to replace old windows.
If the landlord refuses to make repairs and old paint is pulling away from the wall, cracking, chipping or peeling and it is a code violation, you can give the landlord a 14-day written notice to reduce your rent. See “Apartment Repairs and Conditions

Does my landlord have to inform me if there is lead in my apartment?
Under federal law, at the start of a tenancy, the landlord must provide tenants with a lead disclosure form that details any known lead hazard in your unit or the common areas and a copy of the EPA booklet “Protect Your Family from Lead in your Home“. Under 2004 Childhood Lead Prevention Act, the landlord must also post a notice if a lead hazard has been found in another unit. That notice must remain posted until all documented hazards are properly repaired.

If there are renovations or repairs being done in my building, does that expose my family or me to lead?
Maybe. If your home was built before 1978 [find out here:], your landlord or the contractors (s)he has hired must follow the EPA’s Renovation, Repair, and Painting rule, which came into effect on April 22nd, 2010.

Watch this video to know what precautions contractors are now required to take if working in a building built before 1978. Contractors must be certified and must follow specific procedures to prevent possible lead contamination.

Homeowners and Landlords – There is money available to make repairs to lead hazards, including for window replacement. Income qualification can be based on tenants’ income. Learn more here.

Learn more about MTO’s free lead poisoning prevention program here.

Still can’t find the answer? Send us your questions. Please allow several days for a response.

To speak with a Healthy Homes Organizer – call Meg Borneman 773.292.4980 ext. 231 or email