Col. Stephen Elder, Fort Jackson's Garrison Commander, hosted a town hall Tuesday to help allay any fears the community may have over lead based paint.

Installations across the Army have been holding similar town halls in response to a recent Reuters article exposing lead based paint hazards at Fort Benning, Georgia.

"We think this is a big deal," Elder said while fielding questions at the event.

The U.S. Government banned the use of lead-based paint in 1978, so homes built before that year "are presumed to have lead based paint in them," said Ann Garner, director of Fort Jackson's Directorate of Public Works.

Of the installation's 810 on-post residences, 119 were built before 1978, Garner said. One problem Fort Benning has that Jackson doesn't is that buildings here are not considered historical and can have lead problems removed more easily.

Still lead paint is only a problem if it is cracking, bubbling or peeling off, Garner added. There is no problem if it is completely covered over by non-lead paint.

Despite this, lead can still be a problem, post officials said.

"There is no safe level of exposure to lead," said Lt. Col. Matthew Chambers, chief of preventative medicine at Moncrief Army Hospital Clinic.

Mexico and some other places may still allow lead to be in paint. Garner cautioned Families to be cautious with what they eat too because some candies from Mexico and India have been found to have had lead in them.

To combat lead hazards, Fort Jackson will continue to test the post's water, she said. They also will review and validate Balfour Beatty's procedures in on-post housing to ensure they are compliant with all safety laws and regulations. Fort Jackson will also encapsulate or abate all lead hazards.

DPW routinely inspects the amount of lead in the post's water supply, Garner said.

The ways the community can help reduce the risk of lead hazards are to:
Inspect and wet wipe all painted surfaces in pre-1978 homes and ensure children don't have access to peeling paint of painted chewable surfaces.

Thoroughly clean exposed skin and change clothes if exposed to lead in the workplace.

Use only cold water to prepare food and drinks because hot water makes lead soluble.

Flush water outlets used in food and drink preparations.

Clean debris out of outlet screens and faucet aerators on a regular basis.

Avoid using cookware, containers and tableware that are not shown to be lead-free.

Be aware of lead hazards from hobbies such as stained glass or those involving casting lead objects.
"If you have concerns, let us know," Elder said. "We will send someone out to take a look at it."