When low-income shoppers look for a home, many are disappointed to find a slim inventory. The most affordable homes tend to be those that are older with fewer updates. Unfortunately, this means that the most affordable homes on the market are also those more likely to have potential hazards lurking around.
In Pennsylvania, researchers have discovered a link between lead poisoning and low-income home buyers. Is there a solution to this problem?
Why Is Lead Poisoning a Problem?
For Pennsylvania residents and others around the world, the Flint water crisis was a wake-up call. Lead exposure has serious health consequences for those of all ages, but it can especially harm young children.
Lead poisoning affects the nervous system. The result of exposure to lead could be long-time learning disabilities and shortened attention span, especially when it occurs in children. In adults, lead exposure causes problems ranging from increased blood pressure to kidney problems.
What Causes Lead Poisoning?
Lead poisoning occurs when lead water pipes corrode, but it is also often the result of lead seeping from fixtures and soldering. While lead is no longer used in new pipe installations, it was a major part of plumbing throughout the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. The Safe Drinking Water Act stopped the use of lead-containing pipes.
Homebuyers who look for affordable homes may end up in older houses that were also finished with lead-based paint. The dust from this paint can still spread to other areas of the home, even floors and front yards. This type of exposure can also have a negative influence on health, especially in children.
Why Is This a Problem in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania is home to many of the country’s oldest homes. Many of the homes in the state were built before 1950, meaning they may contain not only lead plumbing but also lead paint. Additionally, some cities will be at higher risk for lead exposure than others depending on how old the homes are.
Pennsylvania also has a high level of residents living below the established poverty level. This means that they are not as likely as others to use official tests to check for lead in the home. Not only must you check for lead in the home, but you must also be able to afford to fix it. Fixing the problem can cost thousands of dollars.
Who Should Test for Lead Exposure?
Doctors typically advise that parents check their children for lead poisoning while they are under the age of two. You may need to get in touch with your medical insurance to determine if lead exposure testing is covered.
If a child has been exposed to lead, medical treatment to remove the substance can take years. Even if the lead is removed, the consequences can be permanent.
What Can We Do about Lead in Older Homes?
State lawmakers are looking for new ways to approach the issue of lead in older homes. One task force is considering making it as easy as possible to remove lead-exposing pipes from homes in Pennsylvania. A potential loan program could help homeowners change out plumbing and paint.
As a home inspector, it is often up to you to spot major problems before they develop into bigger issues. One way to become great at your job is to become educated. Home inspection courses can help. Enroll now to get started.