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Know the signs of potential lead poisoning in your children

With the real estate market so competitive, many people who rent in and around Beverly Hills may simply feel thankful to find a rental unit they can afford. Often, older buildings end up divided into rental units, which may have had lead paint at some point. Many times, landlords choose to simply cover up lead paint with newer, lead-free paint instead of having the lead carefully removed.

Some landlords won't even do that. You could move into a home with paint peeling off of certain areas. Maybe they painted the visible areas with fresh paint, but not the inside of your cupboards and closets.

Even if you don't notice, your children might while exploring the space or playing hide and seek. You need to familiarize yourself with the signs of potential lead poisoning if you rent a space in any building from before 1978. After all, the effects of lead poisoning can last a lifetime for your children.

The signs of lead poisoning aren't always obvious at first

Children under the age of 6 are the most vulnerable to potential lead poisoning. Your children may seem mostly healthy but could still have dangerous levels of lead in their bodies. By the time symptoms become obvious, your child's health and future are likely in danger.

Prenatal exposure (meaning your unborn baby was exposed because you were) include premature birth, low birth weight and slow weight gain. If your baby is born early and has trouble gaining weight, a lead test is a good idea.

In older children, symptoms can include development delays, trouble learning, changes in mood such as increased irritability, weight loss and loss of appetite, vomiting or abdominal pain, constipation, hearing loss, seizures and chronic fatigue. Some children also develop pica, which is the habit of eating items that are not food. If your child displays these symptoms, ask your doctor about a lead test as soon as you can.

Know the ways your children end up exposed

There are several ways that your children could end up accumulating too much lead in their little bodies. One of them is by actively peeling off paint from the walls, cabinets or other spaces in your home. Some children may eat the paint they peel off, resulting in dangerous levels of exposure. Even if they just chip off the paint, inhaling the dust it produces can also result in excessive lead exposure.

If there is lead paint outside of your unit, perhaps in the basement near the furnace, the dust from old lead paint could end up circulating throughout your unit, putting your family at risk. Old pipes and poor water quality can also combine to create dangerous levels of lead in your water. If you suspect older pipes in your rental, having your water tested could be of critical importance to your children's overall health and development.

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