Lead exposure/ poisoning - walking away from house? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 05-08-2012, 04:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello all, looking for advice please. DD is 1, she just tested with a lead level of 8. DS is 3, his was 3.3. From what I understand, 10 is considered poisoning, and for a child with exposure to lead, their levels are expected to peak between ages 18-24 months. So it seems like if we stay in our house and don't clean up the lead, DS could officially get lead poisoning. We own our home and have lived here for 7 years. We just had a lead assessment done and the results are grim - the stuff is pretty much everywhere. We could probably contain some of it with painting but the walls in the kitchen and some other areas have crumbling plaster with layers of lead on top of them - crumbling over where we keep dishes, food, etc. We have tried to have this fixed but contractors tell us it is a really dirty job, likely to make the problem worse if they even go in and disturb it more.

So our choice is, risk our daughter's health or risk our credit in possible foreclosure or short sale. Seems like a no brainer, but I really just want advice on simply walking away from a house we are current on, for health issues. We had an evaluation done on the home and it is worth probably about $10,000 less than what we owe on it. We do not have any extra money for repairs or to cover the difference in a sale. We are struggling with money anyway. The house coincidentally is too small for us now and requiring repairs that we can't really afford. We are 4 people living in a 2 bedroom tiny 900 sq ft house and would really love more space - a playroom, maybe? There are some affordable rentals, lower in price and larger in size, that we could move into next month, and just walk away from the house. We are building a pile of evidence regarding the lead exposure to propose to the bank.

Has anyone been through this scenario? I don't know if the bank will consider us as having a hardship and approve a short sale because we are current on payments, although we haven't paid yet for May, and we can theoretically afford the house. We could also theoretically take out a loan for the repairs, although we are drowning in credit card and student loan debt already, and the last thing we want is more debt. In fact, we have about $50,000 in loans currently in deferment, and when we start paying those it will be another $350 per month. Time is of the essence here with either making repairs or moving the children to a safe place.

Any thoughts? Please. Thanks.

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#2 of 10 Old 05-08-2012, 06:26 AM
 
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Could you strap the plaster, then dry-wall and get a good air filter?

 

Could you rent out your place and then find another place to rent?


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#3 of 10 Old 05-08-2012, 06:30 AM
 
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There is a federal funded lead program that subsidizes fixing up lead hazards for qualifying 1-4 unit homes ... maybe your city has one. Maybe you qualify and can deal with some of the issues. The one here will change windows/cover up lead in window frames.

 

Now a days contractors (and DIY should also) need to be lead certified which consists of blocking off the area they are working on, sweeping and cleaning up thoroughly, after themselves etc. And yeah, when work is being done, the lead does fly and travel. Best to go camping for the weekend, when work is getting done.

 

Maybe the problem is in the lead piping - test your water, look for programs that switch out.

http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/parents.html#testdw


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#4 of 10 Old 05-08-2012, 07:38 AM
 
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If the location in your profile is where your house is... check out this: http://hennepin.us/Leadcontrol

A friend of mine had lead removal done -- we live in another part of the country so the program might be different -- but all she had to do was pack everything up into the center of each room (so they could cover it in plastic) and then go stay in a hotel for a few days. The program even paid for the hotel. She got all the lead -- both inside & out -- removed, and they painted everything afterward. It didn't cost her anything (besides the time & aggravation of packing, living in a hotel for a few days with small kids, etc.)

So I'd look into something like that.

I get the desire to just walk away from the home, especially since it's not a good fit for you right now anyway, but I personally wouldn't walk away in your situation... at least not before exploring other options more fully.

Also, if the value difference in your house vs. what you owe is only $10K, that sounds manageable, you might be able to sell it for the amount you need, and if not maybe the bank would even approve a short sale since it's not THAT short. (Speaking as someone whose house is worth only about HALF of what I bought it for!)

I also agree with the pp that renting the house out, while you rent somewhere else, is a good option...

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#5 of 10 Old 05-09-2012, 11:35 AM
 
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Lead removal is dirty and expensive but works well. And sometimes it can be covered by local programs. Look around before you decide to walk away.

 

Was your home tested for lead before you bought it? If not, why not? It should be standard on the sale of an older home. What did your inspection reveal.

 

Walking away from a home that is current while ruin your credit. Ruin it. You might get into a rental before it hits your credit but you'll have a hard time after.

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#6 of 10 Old 05-09-2012, 02:08 PM
 
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IMO, renting a home that has lead to someone else is just wrong. And you won't be able to sell it without disclosing the lead issue- it's standard on forms. My dh's cousin was sued because a house they sold had lead. The buyer came back two years later and sued them saying they must have known- the didn't, but that is almost impossible to prove. They ended up having to pay a fortune to the buyer. (They settled out of court).

 

I would look into programs that might be available to fix the problem. While renting after walking away from a home is not impossible, it is still not a good idea to just walk away if you are current. Good Luck

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#7 of 10 Old 05-10-2012, 07:00 PM
 
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I'm sorry to hear of your struggles.  I know there are lots of programs for financial assistance with lead mitigation but I'm not sure of the qualifications necessary so I would definitely look into that if I were you.  I live in a home that has lead paint(covered with YEARS of non-lead-based paint) and my landlord was very very thorough in his disclosure to me before I signed the rental agreement.  He also handed me a lead risk worksheet and a state sponsored sheet that he is required by law to give me.  It is a way for me to directly contact the state dept of health if I feel that my living situation is hazardous and my landlord is not making adequate strides in mitigating the lead hazard.  It is illegal not to disclose the lead hazard in a rental and you can get in SERIOUS trouble for it.  I would first look into financial assistance for mitigation and then if that was a bust I would look into getting financed through my bank for a loan even if it would cause me financial trouble.  It would be less trouble to get a loan to finance lead mitigation than deal with the fallout on my credit from walking away from the house or being sued for renting out a house with a lead hazard or the medical bills from keeping my kids exposed to lead.  

 

Again,  I hope you get the help you need.  I don't envy your situation right now.  *hugs*


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#8 of 10 Old 05-11-2012, 06:20 PM
 
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We're not just talking about "health issues" from the lead.  We're talking about permanent brain damage.  I know economic issues can affect your children's futures as well, so I recognize the bind you're in.  There have got to be some programs in your area to help families deal with lead in their homes.  I wish I could point you in the right direction... hopefully the links previous posters gave will be useful.

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#9 of 10 Old 05-31-2012, 01:04 PM
 
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Definitely call the local county health department. Lead is, unfortunately, a very common issue. They have programs out there to help with this. While I can understand the feeling of wanting to walk away from the house for your child's health, it is a bit of an overreaction. My youngest tested 'high' at 12 mos (9.something, I believe) and I freaked out as well. I was sent a ton of info, the country health department had someone assigned to my case, and she was very, very, very helpful in helping me figure out possible sources, and if those didn't work, then she had other resources at hand to help us out. Mind you, we are renters too, yet she did talk about programs that would help us make our house safe, if the issue wasn't resolved through other measures. If they are available for renters, I am sure homeowners have similar ones as well.

 

Also, look into a suit against the previous owners. If it was not disclosed, like another poster mentioned, they are at fault/on the hook. Lead abatement is definitely doable.

 

Also, your childrens' numbers are well within the normal range. They do not expect 0 lead levels, since it is a very common mineral. Since your daughter is on the higher end, they are recommending ways to lower it. Your son's, on the other hand, are low, so no one should be worrying about it. That said, I removed all old toys (pre-10 years), all dollar tree toys, put keys were they couldn't be reached (yep, they are a source), same with cell phones & jewelry. 3 months later, my son's level had plummeted to around a 3, I believe. Under 10, your children will be able to excrete the lead pretty easily, hence why the ped/country health is not freaking out and pushing chelation (that doesn't become an issue until a level of 15+ I believe). Chelation has other serious side effects, so it's not taken lightly. 


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#10 of 10 Old 06-04-2012, 12:27 PM
 
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We just got a local city grant to have lead abatement done on our home, so there are programs out there.  It's worth checking before walking away.


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