ASPEN, COLO. (March 10, 2011) – City of Aspen Environmental Health Department officials today announced they are giving out free lead test kits to Aspen residents throughout March.
People can be exposed to the heavy metal from lead based paint in homes built as recently as 1978, lead-containing ceramics and dishware, and toys made with lead containing materials.  “Collecting and decorating trends that use antique or retro furniture, doors, and window frames with chipped, chalky, or peeling paint, could also be introducing lead into homes,” stated Jannette Whitcomb.  “This trend can lead to the hands-on use of vintage jewelry, old dishes and collectible toys; all of which may contain relatively high levels of lead—levels that would provoke recalls if they were newly manufactured toys.”

Approximately 250,000 U.S. children aged 1-5 years have blood lead levels greater than 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, the level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated. Lead poisoning can affect nearly every system in the body. Because lead poisoning often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized.
Personal Protection and Prevention
Whitcomb suggests practicing the following to avoid lead in the home or while shopping:
1)    Reduce the risk from lead-based paint. Most homes built before 1960 contain heavily leaded paint. Some homes built as recently as 1978 may also contain lead paint. Lead paint in good condition is usually not a problem except in places where painted surfaces rub against each other and create dust (for example, opening a window). Do not remove lead paint yourself.

2)    Do not buy metal jewelry (especially cheap metal jewelry) for children. Parents may believe that older children are at less risk for lead poisoning because they have outgrown habits like sucking on dirty fingers and putting toys in their mouths. However, anyone who mouths or accidentally swallows a piece of lead-laden jewelry can suffer lead poisoning.

3)    Avoid products without a brand name, and be careful of toys purchased at dollar stores, thrift stores, yard sales, and vending machines. Those concerned about the safety of their children’s toys can log on to the Consumer Product Safety Commission website to check their recall list,, or call (800) 638-2772.

4)    If you're worried about lead-tainted toys or lead paint on walls or other surfaces in your home, do-it-yourself testing kits can help alert you to surfaces that harbor lead. Non-residents are encouraged to purchase kits on-line or at hardware stores. While supplies last, Aspen residents may stop by the City of Aspen Environmental Health Department to pick up a free LeadCheck tester.

For more information, contact the Aspen Environmental Health Department at 920-5069.

Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2011