A new study out of the University of Rochester says that porches on older city homes could contain significant amounts of lead dust, which is a major source of lead poisoning in children.
The problems comes from flaking lead paint on the porches, says the study, which was published in the journal Environmental Health. Children are exposed to the dust either directly — playing on the porch, for example — or when it is tracked or blown into a house.
The study centered on homes in Rochester where lead-paint abatement work had recently taken place on the porches. It looked at porches on 79 homes; before the work began the study found that lead levels on the porch floors were almost four times the levels in floors indoors. It also found that the interior lead levels declined after the porches were replaced or repainted, says a press release on the study.
“This study shows that porches are an important potential source of lead exposure for children,” said Katrina Korfmacher, community outreach director for the University of Rochester Medical Center's Environmental Health Sciences Center and a co-author of the study, in a press release. “It is becoming clear that porch dust lead can be effectively reduced through repairs, cleaning, and maintenance.”
The City of Rochester has laws that require lead testing in rental properties, but the law doesn't require testing of porches. The study's authors say that ordinances in Rochester and other communities should be changed to cover porches.
“Without a porch standard, no one was held accountable for cleaning porches after interior renovations,” the report's lead author, Jonathan Wilson of the National Center for Healthy Housing, said in the press release. “Lead on porches should be addressed and standards for porch lead dust must be adopted to protect children from inadequate clean-up.”
National Center for Healthy Housing, the University of Rochester Medical Center, the City of Rochester, and Action for a Better Community were partners in the study.