With strict regulations and restrictions from the EPA, it’s easy to be terrified of the possibility of finding lead-based paint in and around your home. But fear not, homeowners… lead paint isn’t some scary monster living under your bed, though it is important to inform yourself of the risk and information regarding homes with lead paint and what you can do as a homeowner.
Why Was Lead Based Paint Used?
Before finding out how to remove and protect your home from lead based paint, it’s important to understand why it was used in the first place. Lead based paint has excellent coverage and hide, and is extremely durable and water resistant. It was a far superior product in regards to durability and longevity compared to other paints used 50-100+ years ago. Take a look at a house built before 1978 and you’ll find well-protected original siding, even if the paint itself is unsightly. The coverage of lead paint truly was superior in protecting the housing materials underneath.
Health Risks with Lead Based Paint
Lead based paint can enter the body in the form of dust or paint chips. Dust can be kicked up during renovations or simple home projects and be inhaled by those in the home. Paint chips that have flaked and peeled around the exterior, onto the soil, or on the inside of the home can easily be digested. Lead paint has a sweet taste to it, making it dangerous for children and animals to have access to. This is especially dangerous for children or women who are pregnant, as they absorb lead paint much quicker than adults.
In essence, lead based paint can cause kidney and liver damage, increased blood pressure, learning disabilities, nerve damage, and much more. For a comprehensive list of the health risks caused by ingesting or inhaling lead-based paint, please refer to the EPA’s pamphlet “Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home.” You can view the pamphlet by clicking here.
How Do I Know if my House has Lead Paint?
If your home was built in 1978 or earlier, there’s a strong chance that there’s lead paint somewhere. The older the home, the higher the chance of there being lead paint. Many people assume that since their house was more recently painted with a water-based paint, they’re in the clear from any lead concern. However, the issue often lies beneath the current paint. Over time, paint chips and flakes away, eventually exposing the lead paint that was once used when the house was originally built. In order to test to see if you have lead paint, a deep enough cut needs to be made on the testing surface so that each layer of paint is tested for lead.
In our experience, we have found that lead paint is more common on the exterior of the home, wood surfaces such as siding, trim, deck rails, and around windows. It is not as commonly found on interior walls or ceilings, but often times found on older interior wood window trim and casings because of its strength as a sealer and protecting from water.
I Know I Have Lead Paint, So What Should I Do?
The first thing to look for are any signs of paint failure. Is paint peeling or chipping off? If so, the issue needs to be addressed before it gets any worse. Conversely, if there are no signs of paint failure, nothing necessarily needs to be done. Just keep an eye on the exterior paint and take action once/if there’s notice of paint failure. Lead paint only becomes a problem when it becomes loose and falls, or becomes dust.
The next step is to inform yourself. What are your obligations as the homeowner? The EPA website has incredibly thorough material, such as the pamphlet linked above. It is important to not try and remove the lead based paint yourself. Hiring an EPA Lead Certified contractor will ensure that the proper methods take place in any home renovations protecting everyone from exposure to lead-based paint. Whether you’re having the gutters replaced, windows replaced, re-siding, or painting, the contractor must be EPA Lead Certified with an active license. Hiring an un-certified contractor can come with expensive fines from the EPA or worse.
Want to learn more about the painting process on homes with lead-based paint? Stayed tuned for our blog post next month as we go through the requirements and process to properly prep, paint, and protect homes built before 1978.
Have a paint or color question you would like answered? Please send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to try and answer it in an upcoming blog pos