In 1996, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission determined that there were hazardous levels of lead in
imported, vinyl mini-blinds that could be especially hazardous to young children. They strongly recommended that the
dangerous blinds be immediately removed from homes, apartments, and other dwellings. The blinds were once readily
available in home improvement stores but are no longer imported into the U.S.
Young children under the age of six are most susceptible to the poisoning. It can happen either when the blinds are
directly chewed, or possibly when the blinds dust, which may accumulate on the sill or floor as the blinds deteriorate,
is touched and then the hand is touched to the mouth.
You may be asking yourself why this continues to be an issue in the U.S. It is because as people move into older
homes and apartments that were built or decorated before 1996, the potential for lead poisoning still exists. It is
important to be diligent about checking existing blinds in pre-1996 homes and apartments to be certain that they do not
contain lead. In reality, it is probably cheaper to replace questionable blinds than to test them. And do not limit
your diligence to your home. Childcare centers and homes of friends or relatives that your children may visit should
also be of concern.
But blinds are not the only hazard. Lead-based paint remains a major concern along with water from old lead or
The dust produced while renovating homes built prior to 1978 could be especially hazardous if lead-based paints or
products were used. The opening and closing of window or doors that were once painted with lead-based paint can be
especially problematic as they can readily produce hazardous dust caused by the friction of their movement.
Depending on the severity of the problem, remedies for homes with lead paint may include a specialized process of
repainting with lead-free paints or the need for full lead remediation and repainting. As always, where issues of
safety are a concern, you should seek the advice of licensed experts.