You have just moved into a historic home that is lovely, with stained french windows and antique hardwood flooring. But you have always heard or read that it might have lead paint. It could be true if it were constructed before 1978. Let us look at a few things before going on to the procedures of dealing with lead-based paint. You can click for more info about health risks associated with exposure to lead-based paints here.
What is lead?
Found in the earth’s crust, lead is a naturally-forming toxic material that has been proven to be one of the root causes of environmental contamination. Posing as a threat to human health at large, this toxic material was once one of the most commonly used materials in manufacturing household products like paints, fertilizers, water pipes, and gasoline. Unlike many other environmental pollutants, the negative effects of this toxic material do not go away over time. Exposure to lead can pose serious threats to human health, especially for children under the age of 6.
How can one be exposed to lead inhalation?
Until 1978, lead-based paints were commonly used in residential homes, commercial buildings, and children’s toys. Lead-based paints were used both inside and outside in commercial and residential buildings before 1978 until it got banned. When this old paint cracks and peels away, the microscopic lead dust can be released into the air, which can have adverse effects on everybody around it. Sanding and scraping of lead-based walls without the help of professional equipment and knowledge, especially in DIY remodeling of homes, can release lead-based dust. The dust settles on the ground and gets mixed with the air. It is especially harmful to children as they often have the habit of putting things in their mouths, and their underdeveloped immunity can cause serious health issues. All the cases of lead poisoning have dropped after its ban; it is still considered to be a major public health problem in certain areas of the country where old residential and commercial buildings exist containing lead-based paints.
Is lead-based paint toxic to breathe?
The answer is yes. From serious headaches and abdominal pain to high blood pressure and mood swings, lead exposure can be dangerous for both children and adults. Lead poisoning can only be detected through a blood lead test. Lead exposure can also harm almost every system in the body, especially the kidneys, blood, bones, and liver. There are also severe health issues that are caused due to lead poisonings like reproductive system damage, anemia, and brain damage. One can only imagine what this toxic element can do to small and unborn children. As pregnancy can weaken immune systems in women, exposure to lead can harm them even more and cause dangerous health problems like miscarriages, low birth weight in newborns, and even early birth.
Why should you get your home lead tested? What are the laws?
Unless you know the whole history of the house you live in, you can always presume your home was constructed before 1978 and has lead paint on the interior and outside. Hence, getting it tested for lead paint by a professional is essential. If your home has a big lead problem or you are planning a substantial restoration job, you shouldn’t try to tackle it yourself. Lead is classified as a hazardous material, and each state and municipality has its own set of disposal regulations. If you act without the advice of an expert, you may be breaking the law. Even illegally depositing lead garbage or failing to get the necessary permissions may be a misdemeanor punishable by penalties or imprisonment!
Why should professionals only handle lead-based paint?
Firstly, if you think that your house has lead-based paint, don’t try to do anything yourself, like cover up with paint yourself or sand the walls. Only professional painters know the procedures of safely removing lead paint without harming the residents of a home. There are many government-approved procedures that are used by them to remove lead-based paint, like the use of HEPA vacuums and chemical stripping. They also used industry-approved masks to cover themselves up. If the lead paint of your home can be removed, your hired professionals will most likely be trained to cover and shield it safely using industry-level materials. They are even trained to dispose of lead lawfully as they are fluent with the municipal rules and state laws regarding lead-based paint.
If you are in a historic neighborhood where all the apartments and homes were constructed before 1978, asking your neighbors for a good painter for lead removal can be a good head start. There is a fair chance that someone in your neighborhood has already hired a local lead abatement contractor in the past. Getting references from your neighbors and friends and going through online reviews are also good places to start.