Children spend a significant portion of their day in schools, and many school buildings are aging
structures that can pose lead health
hazards. Lead exposure can increase children’s risk for learning disabilities, central nervous
system damage, kidney damage and other
detrimental health effects.
Lead was used in paint prior to 1978 to produce brighter colors and to make the paint last longer.
Many older schools used lead paint to
cover walls, floors, doors and especially window frames. Lead was also used in stains, varnishes and
shellacs. Intact lead paint
generally does not pose a health risk. However, when lead paint is allowed to deteriorate or is
damaged, it can release paint chips
and dust into the environment creating lead hazards. Lead hazards can also be found in the soil
outside of school buildings and in
dust inside the buildings.
Lead can also be found in plumbing materials and potentially leach into drinking water supplies.
Lead pipes were most commonly installed
prior to the 1930s. However, lead can also be found in the solder used to join pipes together, as
well as in other plumbing components
and fixtures. The potential for lead to leach into water increases the longer the water is in
contact with the lead. Because of
intermittent water usage patterns, schools can be at increased risk for lead leaching.