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Omaha Lead Registry
Omaha Lead Registry

Lead and My Home

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A safe and healthy home for everyone in Omaha.

It is estimated people spend 70% of their time inside their homes. A healthy home is the foundation for a healthy family which creates and grows healthy communities, neighborhoods, and cities. Socioeconomic inequity, substandard housing, and exposure to environmental toxins are linked to health issues. A healthy home means children missing fewer days in school, reduced costs for special education, emergency room visits and better overall health and well-being. Through education, testing, best practices, and accessible resources the goal is ensuring the safety and health of every home.

Homes are the microcosm of a strong community. A healthy home reduces healthcare costs, supports a stable neighborhood, increases quality of life for its residents and means fewer missed school or work days. It is the lynchpin of public health. Research shows a strong link between lead exposure and substandard housing conditions. By supporting and creating lead-safe, healthy, contaminant free, and well-maintained homes, together, we can stop this preventable problem.

Sources Of Concern

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JKDC-UNION_NewWebsite-SiteDesign-soil

Precautions must be taken to ensure soil is safe in areas where buildings and homes were built near lead-emitting operations.

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Soil is an essential natural resource that helps food grow and creates a sustainable environment. Lead paint or industrial pollution can contaminate the soil around a house (Espanol), garage, or former building site. When children play in bare soil or it is brought into the house on shoes or by pets, it can be a hazard. A simple way to address lead in soil is to cover any bare dirt because exposed soil is a greater hazard than covered soil. The City of Omaha has been sampling and testing soil for years to enhance the health of its residents and houses the largest Superfund Site in the country. At the site, soil has been contaminated historically by air emissions from lead processing operations including The American Smelting and Refining Company, Inc. (ASARCO). The site includes 27 square miles of downtown Omaha where those facilities operated.

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Keeping a consistent cleaning routine that works well for you and your family is an important step to creating a healthy home.

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No matter how efficient your cleaning skills, dealing with dust is a challenge. One common source of lead exposure is dust from deteriorating paint in older homes. Lead dust is heavy and settles quickly so it can be difficult to clean. Children are exposed to lead dust on window sills, doorways, porches, and floors. Dust can also form when lead-based paint is scraped, sanded, or heated. Settled lead dust can reenter the air when a home is vacuumed or swept or when people regularly walk through an area. Removing shoes when entering your home, wet dusting and frequent vacuuming with a HEPA-equipped vacuum cleaner are ways to cut down on lead dust. In Omaha, properties located within the Omaha Lead Superfund Site that had the soil cleaned-up are eligible for a free interior dust assessment performed by the Douglas County Health Department.

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Water sustains us. It is life. It is a precious resource that must be safe in order to keep our homes and communities thriving.

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Lead in drinking water rarely comes from the water source or main. A lead service line is the largest potential source of lead in drinking water. Lead can enter water by leaching from pipes, brass faucets, and solder. Homes built before 1960 are more likely to have these fixtures. Boiling does not eliminate lead but running cold water for 15 to 30 seconds before drinking, as well as using only water from the cold tap for cooking and drinking may reduce exposure. Removing and cleaning the aerator on the faucet frequently is also an important preventative measure. Testing the water and finding out if you have lead service lines are solid first steps in ensuring the safety of your water and health of your home. For additional information contact the Metropolitan Utilities District.

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Lead comes in many shapes and sizes, so knowing which items in your house may be unconventional sources of lead exposure is very important.

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It is fun to enjoy artifacts from the past but it is important to be aware that some old toys, jewelry, keys, cosmetics, fishing weights, and furniture might contain lead. Also, if you work with lead, you could bring it home on your clothes. Jobs including construction, demolition, painting, and hobbies including stained glass, refinishing furniture and making pottery could also expose someone to lead. Lead can be present in storage containers made from glazed pottery, imported cans, antique pewter, porcelain and leaded glass. Do not store food, especially acidic food, in these containers. Some imported foods and candy can also have traces of lead. It is important to be informed about all of these potential lead sources to empower and ensure the health of your family.

The interior of a home, school, daycare or workplace are places we want to feel safe and secure so it is important to know where lead hazards can lurk.

While some lead hazards are visible, air pollution (including auto and industrial emissions and past use of leaded gasoline) is invisible and hard to detect.

Interior

Lead-based paint was used in millions of homes until it was banned in 1978. Porches, windows, railing, stairs, baseboards, trim and floors are a few places lead and lead dust can be found inside and affect the health of children and adults. If paint has an alligator-cracking pattern with a chalk residue, it could contain lead. If lead paint is chipping, cracking and peeling it must be addressed. Get the area tested, reach out to an expert, and learn how to remove (or address) lead paint safely. If beginning a renovation or lead paint removal, temporarily remove children, pregnant women and pets or seal off the work area to secure their health and well-being. Douglas County Health Department provides interior lead paint testing.

Lead paint with alligator-cracking pattern

Exterior

Lead-based insecticides, exhaust, mining, battery manufacturing and other industrial uses contribute to the problem. Part of the reason materials containing lead have been widely used in processes and products is because they are often durable, rustproof and weather-resistant. Being aware of job sites and other potential hazards in your area and asking questions if unsure is a great proactive measure to keep you and your family safe. Outside the home, deteriorating lead-based paint can fall to the ground and raise lead concentration in soil which can be tracked into the home. Testing exterior paint is just as important as securing the safety of the interior of a home. The City of Omaha’s Lead Hazard Control Program is a great resource for families that are concerned about lead on the exterior of their home.

Deteriorating exterior lead-based paint.

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See if your home has ever been tested for lead:

Omaha Lead Registry