If you live or work in a structure that was constructed before 1978, then there is a chance that lead paint is a hazard to your health and well being. Children and women of childbearing age are especially susceptible to the dangers of lead paint within a home.
Any renovations or remodels must be performed with great care to prevent hazardous health effects for workers and anyone that spends any time in or near the structure during the process. It is critical that proper safety gear and protocol be followed to prevent the intake of toxic dust and debris.
What Is Lead?
Lead is a highly toxic material that is naturally present in the environment in small amounts but when it is present in too high of concentration it can cause severe health effects and even death. In previous times paint used on structures often contained lead.
The health effects of lead poisoning can result in behavioral problems, neurological disorders, faintness, and damage to vital organs such as the kidneys and liver. This can occur when dust or chips of paint are inhaled or otherwise consumed. Children that are developing can unknowingly ingest chips that are on clothing or toys.
Fatigue, nausea, and irritability are all more signs that lead may be an issue to you or someone you care about. One scary aspect of lead poisoning in children is that there are often no signs or at least no indications that cannot be attributed to normal fussiness or illness that happens to all children.
Many parents are choosing to test their children for the lead just to make sure they are growing up safely and more healthy. Testing children at age 1 and 2 is common but is also recommended if a child is up to 3 years old and visits structures that were made before 1978.
If you are not aware of the year your home was built or last renovated, then you should try to find out. An older home that has recently been renovated may have been treated for lead contamination already. Being aware of lead levels in your home is critical for your health.
If you are of childbearing age and are considering starting a family, then it is best to get lead levels under control as soon as possible. This means you will have the healthiest start to your family. Prevention is priceless when it comes to the harm lead can do to development.
Have children tested.
Find out information on your home and have it tested for lead if necessary.
Be aware of play areas and the homes of others that you child spends time with. If they are in the care of someone else during the day, then they could be getting exposed even if your home is lead-free.
What To Do If You Suspect Your Home Has Lead Paint
- Wipe down painted areas such as window trim with a damp paper towel to remove any debris that might be present. Using a lot of paper towels and throwing them away immediately is the best method.
- Mop smooth floors at least weekly and vacuum as often as needed to keep dirt and debris from building up on carpets.
- Renovate your home if necessary. It is not worth it to live in an unsafe home. If your home tests high for the lead, then you need to consult with a contractor to safely conduct renovations to reduce lead levels in your home.
- Stay out of the home during renovations. It is important that you and your family do not breathe or ingest any particles during renovations. This means that you need to find accommodations throughout the entire period.
- Wear the right safety gear if conducting repairs or completing renovations yourself. You may not want or be able to wait on a contractor. There are respirators and suits that you can wear if you need to do work yourself.
Hidden Sources of Lead
There are more sources of lead than just old paint. In fact here are some places where lead may be found that you might not have thought of.
- Older pipes could have lead solder or be made of lead themselves. Not everyone has a modern water system. In fact, some of the water systems in larger or older cities have more sections of questionable plumbing than they like to admit.
- Always use cold water for drinking or cooking if you suspect this because warm water may harbor more lead.
- Table and cook ware can contain lead. Terra cotta plates and bowls manufactured outside the United States can contain high levels of lead. Never use a pot or dish for any purpose other than what it is intended for. Some containers do not have food grade finishes.
- Candy that is imported has been found to be wrapped in capsules that have unsafe levels of lead. This is particularly true of some candies from Mexico. Be careful which products you let your child eat.
- Toys that are made cheaply or that are antique can have high lead levels. If a toy has paint that flakes or scratches easily then this may be a sign. Cheap figurines are another source of lead.
- Industrial pollution may be closer than you think. It is important to be aware of your proximity to industrial pollutants that could contain lead or other toxins.
Your physician can test and treat you for lead poisoning, but this means you have to distance yourself from the source. If you are renting a space that is contaminated then you this may be as simple as renting somewhere else. If you have signed a lease, then your landlord needs to be aware of the issue. There are rules and regulations to protect you if where you are renting is found not to be safe.
All 50 states are enforcing rules that require contractors and landlords to take steps to eliminate exposure to lead paint. This means that protocols must be followed that allow for the safe disposal of materials and ensure that particles are removed before anyone lives or works on the premises again.
Those found not to be in compliance can fast some hefty fines. Individuals doing their work are exempt from the rule, but it is still not a good idea to take major precautions when it comes to lead paint exposure.
More contractors and landlords are being inspected to make sure they are compliant with the RRP rules. If you are not certified to work on structures, built before 1978 then you need to get the training and certification you need to boost client confidence and make sure your business is operating in a compliant manner.
The National Association of Home Builders can help you get certified and has a database of certified contractors if you are looking for one that is qualified to safely perform renovations and repairs on your home or business. When you choose a certified contractor, you can be assured that your renovations.
The EPA website has a lot of valuable information and links for more information regarding RRP rules. The application for certification can be made online. Those that are dealing with larger lead abatement projects can also file paperwork online for easy compliance.
Getting The Facts
Besides just knowing how to deal with lead contamination, it is important for contractors to be able to educate answer questions that others might have about lead. With more and more people becoming aware of possible contamination around them, it can be beneficial for a business to be knowledgeable and show respect for sound environmental practices and safety protocols.
When your clients know that you are up to date on rules, they have greater confidence and are far more likely to recommend your services to others.