Watch our short video on what the Omaha Lead Registry is all about.

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. The link between 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 enhances overall health and well-being. Through education, testing, fair 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 before 1978.

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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, garage, fence, 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 grassy soil. The city of Omaha has been sampling and testing soil for years to enhance the health of its residents and houses the large 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 peeling 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, door ways, 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 are ways to cut down on lead dust.

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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 and 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 and 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.

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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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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, or radiator repair 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 or rubs off in your hands 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 wellbeing.

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.

Deteriorating exterior lead-based paint.

What can be done?

Testing

Gotlead slider testing

A blood test is the only way to assess lead exposure.

If there are concerns, testing is an important tool in addressing potential lead exposure. Here are different testing options and opportunities worth considering. Families living in pre-1978 built housing with young children might want to consider testing options for the home, soil and residents.

To ensure a healthy Omaha, OHKA tests homes annually for environmental hazards. A risk assessment is one way to find out if a home has lead hazards and what ways those hazards can be addressed. For more information about testing options, contact 402-934-9700.

Maintenance

Gotlead slider maintenance

Doing the work needed for the health and of everyone.

If there is work to be done on your home, you must take on the responsibility for the safety of your family. This means properly preparing for the renovation and finding a contractor and team who employ lead-safe work practices. There should be open lines of communication and transparency to ensure the safety and health of all parties.

This includes disclosing all lead testing results and drafting a contract that confirms that all lead-safe guidelines are strictly followed (including designating what parts of the home are the work area, describing how the contractor will clean the work area when complete, etc). For more information on finding the right contractors for a renovation, visit: (www.website.org).

Remediation

Gotlead slider remediation

Reversing or stopping the damage caused by lead.

Soil may require remediation in residential areas, at schools and playgrounds and other areas contaminated by emissions from historic lead smelting and refining operations. Remediation refers to reversing or stopping the environmental damage caused by lead containment or poisoning. Abatement is a term used to describe methods to permanently remove lead-based paint hazards.

This can include replacing, enclosing or encapsulating the part of the building covered in lead-based paint. Lead in soil is also a big concern for urban food growers and gardeners. Soil can be tested to find out if it needs to be replaced, washed or covered to combat potential lead poisoning.

What can be done?

Testing

Gotlead slider testing

A blood test is the only way to assess lead exposure.

If there are concerns, testing is an important tool in addressing potential lead exposure. Here are different testing options and opportunities worth considering. Families living in pre-1978 built housing with young children might want to consider testing options for the home, soil and residents.

To ensure a healthy Omaha, OHKA tests homes annually for environmental hazards. A risk assessment is one way to find out if a home has lead hazards and what ways those hazards can be addressed. For more information about testing options, contact 402-934-9700.

Maintenance

Gotlead slider maintenance

Doing the work needed for the health and of everyone.

If there is work to be done on your home, you must take on the responsibility for the safety of your family. This means properly preparing for the renovation and finding a contractor and team who employ lead-safe work practices. There should be open lines of communication and transparency to ensure the safety and health of all parties.

This includes disclosing all lead testing results and drafting a contract that confirms that all lead-safe guidelines are strictly followed (including designating what parts of the home are the work area, describing how the contractor will clean the work area when complete, etc). For more information on finding the right contractors for a renovation, visit: (www.website.org).

Remediation

Gotlead slider remediation

Reversing or stopping the damage caused by lead.

Soil may require remediation in residential areas, at schools and playgrounds and other areas contaminated by emissions from historic lead smelting and refining operations. Remediation refers to reversing or stopping the environmental damage caused by lead containment or poisoning. Abatement is a term used to describe methods to permanently remove lead-based paint hazards.

This can include replacing, enclosing or encapsulating the part of the building covered in lead-based paint. Lead in soil is also a big concern for urban food growers and gardeners. Soil can be tested to find out if it needs to be replaced, washed or covered to combat potential lead poisoning.

Resources

Join our email list:

See if your home has ever been tested for lead:

Omaha Lead Registry

See the how we improve children's healthy through healthy homes:

Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance