Making sure children are safe from lead exposure

You may not know that Commerce manages the state’s Lead-Based Paint Program, ensuring that work performed on homes containing lead-based paint is completed safely.

According to the Center for Disease Control, lead-based paint is the leading environmental hazard to children under the age of six — far more common than lead water pipes. Lead paint was commonly used in homes built before 1978.

KOMO-TV in Seattle ran a great story about lead paint hazards. Watch video

The primary purpose of Commerce’s enforcement program is making sure children are safe from lead exposure. Our first priority is education and training. We inform building and remodeling contractors when the methods they are using may unnecessarily expose children to the dangers of lead, and we fund the state’s only certification program for safe lead-based paint removal and remediation.

Partnerships are key to success

Our program staff received a call from the Department of Health, alerting us to a 13-month-old child in Seattle with an elevated blood lead level. This was discovered at a routine pediatrician visit.

Commerce has an agreement with the Department of Health to investigate elevated blood lead level cases whenever possible. Preliminary results from our inspectors indicate that the bookcase where the child’s toys were stored had seven times the legal limit of lead. We believe this is the source of lead that caused the child’s elevated blood lead level. After we identified the source, the family immediately removed the toys from the bookcase until they could move, minimizing the child’s contact with the source of lead. The landlord let the family out their lease and they moved out of the house.

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