When you take out the paint, you should be able to easily notice small specks in the paint. As the paint hardens it makes a noticeable clump. You wouldn’t get lead on your fingernails after they’d hardened as a result of being in an iron, but you do if you took a big whiff of the paint’s fumes or put it in your mouth or eyes. These are all very small amounts and they could have been a whole lot larger if you’d done this.
“One of the things we learned from testing these products,” said Mike Schofield, a lead and paint specialist with the EPA’s Division of Lead and Copper, “is that those small traces in spray paint is often the result of contamination with lead paint in the tank. Some lead paint has been present in paint prior to being applied. With some products there may be a lead or copper contamination, but in these products there seems to be very little lead exposure.”
When the paint comes off, the water in the tank should be clean and easy to drink.
So how can you tell that something has been spilled on the job?
“That’s very subtle,” Schofield said. “If you just looked at the water in the tank, it might look fine. But as you pull it out you will notice the small specks—you know you’ve seen this before.”
Schofield stressed that people with children should not spray paint onto children’s toys unless it’s done in a safe manner and the water is clean. He said that even without spray paint, the water should be free of lead. It’s the same issue a lot of doctors face when treating children with lead poisoning.
“What I’m saying is that children are not protected from lead poisoning by water,” he said.
Are these things still being used?
Schofield explained that lead paint no longer appears on water treatment machines. These systems capture lead, filter it in a special filter that removes it from the water, while the water remains a low level lead source. This is what the Department of Health and Human Services recommends for a typical home.
While lead paint is no longer sold in the United States, it still gets sold and manufactured in China and Japan. The companies involved have paid millions of dollars in fines and fines related to the lead contamination on American soil. Schofield says the EPA has received several complaints from homeowners who have been told they can’t purchase water treatment systems
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