Lead-Safe Toolkit for Home-Based Child Care: Frequently Asked Questions

Since releasing the Lead-Safe Toolkit for Home-Based Child Care in October 2019, the project team has received some questions from the public. The answers might be helpful to others, so we have included them below.

Questions Related to Lead in Paint

Q. In the Lead in Paint webinar, Amanda Reddy stated that If you visualize taking a packet of sugar (about 1 gram) and fill it with lead dust and spread over the space of a football field is enough for the EPA to consider the area contaminated. Is there a research article or reference where this analogy comes from?

A. This analogy has been attributed to many people over the years, but you can do the math yourself: A sugar packet contains 1 gram (g) of sugar. If you assume the sugar granules are actually lead particles, this is equivalent to 1,000,000 micrograms (µg) of lead. If this mass of lead is spread over the area of a football field (100 yards x 53.333 yards; or 300 feet x 160 feet, or 48,000 square feet [ft2]), you end up with a loading of 21 micrograms per square foot (µg/ft2), which is above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recently updated hazard standard of 10 µg/ft2 for floors.

The analogy even holds up if you include the area of the end zones (a total of 120 yards x 53.3 yards; or 360 feet x 160 feet = 57,600 ft2 and 1,000,000 µg/57,600 ft2, which yields a loading of 17.4 µg/ft2). If spread over just half of the football field (28,800 ft2), the loading would be 35.7 µg/ft2, which is
three and a half times the hazard standard.

Note that Ms. Reddy referenced “half a football field” in the webinar. This is still a true statement – just not as dramatic as the true statement that you could spread that one gram evenly over an area larger than a professional football field and still be at or above the EPA hazard standard.

Q. Where can we find samples to test for lead?

A. If you’d like to have samples collected and tested to see if lead hazards are present in your home, step two of the Lead in Paint Policy Worksheet recommends hiring a certified risk assessor, who will sample dust near painted surfaces to determine whether they have lead levels above federal or state standards. You may also contact your local health department or lead poisoning prevention program for help or to inquire about free or low-cost resources.

General Questions about the Lead-Safe Toolkit

Q. Where can we find the sample policies?

[This question refers to some of the materials depicted in the Lead in Paint webinar session on February 19.]

A. You can find all four sample policies for home-based child care (lead in paint, lead in water, lead in soil, lead in consumer products) by visiting the Lead-Safe Toolkit website at http://bit.ly/lead-safetoolkit. The lead-in-paint policy specifically discussed in webinar session one is available here.

Q. How do we get parents to check their home? Can you provide things for parents in my program?

A. Getting parents to check their home can be a struggle as many either don’t understand the threat that lead poses or are convinced that their homes don’t have a lead problem; but the fact is that any home built before 1978 may have lead-based paint. With approximately 10 million homes receiving water from lead service lines (the pipes connecting water mains to people’s houses), mostly (but not only) found in the Midwest and Northeast, there’s at least a fair chance that their water supply contains some lead. Unfortunately, there’s no simple way to ensure that parents look at materials you give them or direct them to read, but it doesn’t hurt to talk to them about lead poisoning as part of your introduction to them—what you’re doing about lead and that you recommend that they take the same actions in their own homes.

We have several great resources on the Lead-Safe Toolkit site that are appropriate for both caregivers and families. You’re welcome to print and distribute any of the resources you find on our site for your personal or professional use. We’ll also be adding additional resources over the next several months, so check back periodically for new materials.