Spray paint contains lead and other heavy metals, like cadmium and arsenic. Lead can leach into paint and can be found in the paint at concentrations of up to 1,000 parts per million. It’s been phased out by the 1990s. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has placed many toxic paint products on its list of hazardous chemicals.
Lead is more than just the color of paint. It’s a neurotoxin, meaning it harms the brain. Studies show children with high blood lead levels are more likely to have intellectual disabilities and behavioral problems. They also have lower IQ scores than children who are not exposed to lead.
As a result, health effects, such as seizures, developmental delay and impaired hearing and vision, are a bigger concern when children start using paints in their own homes.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society advises people to wash their hands after using paint. And the Canadian Cancer Society says that when a child accidentally eats paint, the metal can migrate into the digestive tract, causing cancer.
A 2012 study by Harvard researchers found that paint can contain lead dust from the dusting of lead paint by cars in nearby neighborhoods. In addition to this, low-income households, particularly those with low incomes, tend to have lower levels of lead in their lead paint than do higher income households. And lead is a known carcinogen.
Can paint be treated with chlorine?
Chlorine will remove most lead from pipes, paint and other hazards but it has its own drawbacks. It will reduce the effectiveness of the system, which could have consequences in cities like Detroit, Ohio, and Baltimore, Maryland, that have poor cleaning infrastructure. It also may harm wildlife.
The EPA, with the CDC, has studied the effectiveness of chlorine treatments on removing lead from pipes at the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and in the city of Baltimore.
In 2015, the EPA estimated that the cost of treating Detroit’s pipes and fixtures and the cost of treating the pipes in Baltimore was about $50 million per year. In addition, the cost of treating all lead pipes in Detroit is expected to run $2.1 million per year.
The researchers also found that the cost of treating Baltimore’s water would be nearly double that of Detroit’s treated pipe.
“We found that it would be more economical to treat all of the pipes at more than 50 percent of their lead content (per household) rather than treating just the lower lead pipes in the
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