This substance present on balconies is dangerous for children

2023-12-26 15:35:00

Parisian balconies are covered in lead. “In Paris, 13% of cases of childhood lead poisoning are due to presence of lead on balconies », notes the Île-de-France Regional Health Agency, which, associated with the Paris town hall, wishes to “better inform Parisians of the risk and the actions to take” (source 1).

A risk of lead poisoning

Present particularly on balconies, lead can represent a health risk, especially for children. “Due to their young age, children naturally put their hands in their mouth, thus favoring the ingestion of paints, soil and dust, which increases their risk of overexposure to lead. In addition, the digestive absorption of lead is greater in children than in adults (40 to 55% in children compared to 5 to 10% in adults),” explains the Paris town hall (source 2).

The excessive presence of lead in the body, or lead poisoning, can have numerous consequences on children’s health :

learning difficulties; reduced intellectual performance; behavioral and sleep disorders; decreased hearing; digestive disorders; pallor due to anemia, etc.

According to Public Health France, between 2015 and 2018, around 500 to 700 cases of childhood lead poisoning were diagnosed per year in France (source 3).

If there is any doubt related to exposure to lead, only a blood test can determine possible poisoning. Do not hesitate to contact a health professional, the Antipoison and Toxicovigilance Center of Paris (01 40 05 48 48) or the Association of Families Victims of Saturnism (09 53 27 25 45 / 06 99 89 19 39).

Where is lead present?

Lead is present on balconies, but not only. “When opening the patio doors, the lead dust from wear and tear on the balcony are deposited on the interior floors. THE toys and cuddly toys are then contaminated by the dust present on the interior floors of the living room and bedrooms, and the child is thus contaminated,” specifies the Île-de-France Regional Health Agency. Roofs can also contain lead. Your accommodation is more likely to be affected if the building was built before 1949, or “if the floor of the balcony is covered with metal sheets or plates”, explains the ARS. Finally, technical diagnostics indicate exposure to lead (CREP).

But lead is also present in paints, pipes, certain cosmetics, and can remain “in the grounds of courtyards and gardens”, according to Paris town hall. Since 2021, the City “has launched investigations for the presence of lead in establishments welcoming children “. In 2022, elected official Anne Souyris indicated to France 3 the presence of lead “in the two thirds of schools or nurseries inspected. 43 establishments out of 61 report at least one report of lead, above the standard, whether in paints, loose soil or dust. Where notable lead levels were discovered, we decided to carry out blood lead tests, blood samples from children. 673 children were tested” (source 4).

How to protect yourself?

Pour avoid the risk of lead exposure in apartmentsthe Regional Health Agency recommends:

of wash your hands regularly and children’s faces; clean objects stored on the balcony before using them or bringing them into the apartment; remove shoes before entering the apartment; wet clean the rooms overlooking the balcony and frequently ventilate the accommodation.
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