Lead Paint Removal

Lead hazards in the home

Even though lead is no longer used in paint, plumbing or home construction, it can still be found in older homes. Individuals that reside in homes built prior to 1978 are at the highest risk of lead exposure. The most common way people get exposed to lead is by coming in contact with lead-based paint chips. However, there are many other items homeowners should be aware of.

Paint

Even though most homes have been repainted over the years, individuals may still find lead based paint if their home was constructed prior to 1978. The cracking, chalking, peeling and chipping paint can create a dust that is easily inhaled or ingested.

Furniture

In the past, furniture was often painted with lead-based paint. It can still be occasionally found on older cribs, bed frames, headboards, dressers and other pieces that get handed down through generations.

Since wood has the ability to act as an absorbent, the lead from the paint can still be problematic even if it has been removed. These furniture pieces should be replaced.

Miscellaneous Products

There are many products found around the home that can contain lead. Children that place these items in their mouths or get the lead dust on their hands can be easily exposed. Other individuals should always remember to wash their hands after touching lead-containing items.

Items that may contain lead:

• Fishing sinkers

• Batteries

• Ammunition

• Marine paint

• Radiators

• Mini-Blinds

• Imported foods and candies in cans

• Cosmetics

• Generators

Testing for lead in the home

Contacting a professional lead inspection technician is the best way to check your home for lead. Inspectors have the training, knowledge and experience to conduct thorough tests that can detect even the slightest traces of lead.

You can also purchase a home lead testing kit from a local hardware store. Some kits will instruct you to send in a sample of a paint chip for laboratory testing while other tests use a swab technique that can detect lead in as little as 30 seconds.

However, the home testing kits have been found to not be as reliable as hiring a lead inspector. In a 2007 study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 50 percent of home lead test kits reported false positives or negatives.

Areas of the home that should be tested include:

• Bedrooms

• Playrooms

• Kitchens

• Basements

• Utility Rooms

• Antiques

When testing for lead-based paint, the following areas should be tested: 

• Trim and siding

• Doors, door jambs and thresholds

• Kitchen cabinets

• Baseboards

• Window frames and window sills

• Painted furniture

Lead removal services

Homeowners who attempt to remove lead-containing products need to use extreme caution. If lead-based paint is scraped off from a wall, it sends dangerous particles into the air that can be transmitted to the body. The safest way to ensure a successful lead removal is to hire a lead removal service.

The following safety precautions for removing lead paint:

• Work in one room at a time, and seal off the work area from the rest of the house, including any heating or ventilation ducts, using heavy plastic sheets.

• Everything in the room (furniture, rugs, carpets, floors, bedding, drapes, dishware, food, toys, etc.) must be removed, or covered with two sheets of plastic and all the seams taped. Plastic used to cover the floor should be secured to the wall or baseboard with duct tape.

• Workers should wear disposable coveralls, shoes, hair covering, goggles and a respirator approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health or the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Simple paper or fabric dust masks will not protect a worker from lead dust.

• To avoid ingesting lead, workers should not eat, drink or smoke on the job.

• Workers need to clean up carefully. Before leaving the work area, they should dispose of their coveralls, and remove the dust from their clothes with a High-Efficiency Particulate Air filtered vacuum cleaner.

As of April 22, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency requires all remodelers, painters and contractors who work on homes built prior to 1978 and disturb more than six square feet of lead-based paint to be certified by an EPA-approved training provider. Failure to do so can result in a fine up to $37,500.

Symptoms of lead exposure

Lead has a toxic effect on organs and tissue of the body. Individuals that experience long-term exposure, or have ingested lead into their system are at a high risk of developing irreversible medical ailments.

Individuals may suffer from only one or multiple symptoms common with lead exposure or lead poisoning. The only positive way to diagnose these medical ailments is to have a blood test conducted on the individual at risk. If one member of the household is diagnosed with lead poisoning, it is recommended that all occupants be tested.

Lead is extremely toxic to organs like the heart, kidneys, intestines and nervous system. It’s especially toxic to children and even moderate lead exposure can result in behavior and learning disorders.

Early symptoms of lead exposure include abdominal pain, headache, fatigue and nausea. Chronic lead exposure can result in short-term memory loss, numbness in the hands and feet and permanent damage to the nervous, cardiovascular and reproductive systems. It can severely damage the kidneys, and in some extreme cases, a person may develop a lead-colored skin tone. People who suffer from long-term lead exposure are at a higher risk of death from cancer and diseases associated with lead poisoning.

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