Dealing with Lead Based Paint

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In years past it was common for homes, schools, and businesses to be painted with lead based paint. This changed in the late 1970's but up until that point, lead based paint was used freely in millions of structures, both on the interior as well as exterior. Some of those buildings still have lead based paint to this day, and if you purchased an older home, it is entirely possible that lead based paint is present there.


Much of lead based paint in structures today has probably been painted over. Once it is covered by a few coats of another type of paint, the potential for problems greatly diminishes. However, if lead based paint is peeling or has been agitated by sanding, scraping, or even the burning down of a structure, danger is present. It then becomes a health hazard to the people and animals exposed to it when lead enters the blood stream, which occurs when it is ingested.


Symptoms of lead ingestion can present in various ways. Included in the realm of possible signs of ingestion are headaches, hearing loss, aching joints or muscles, digestive issues, reproductive failure, elevated blood pressure, memory loss, and inability to concentrate. While many of these problems are troubling enough in adults, small children are even more susceptible to lead related illness due to increased sensitivity at a young age. Children under two years of age in particular are affected by brain damage, lowered I.Q., learning disorders, slow growth, behavioral problems, and damage to the central nervous system.


If you are concerned that your home may contain lead based paint and you wish to remove it, be sure to have it tested before you begin the removal process. Testing can be done by a professional or you can mail paint chips off for testing. It is also be possible to purchase a DIY kit.

If testing reveals the presence of lead based paint, it may be possible to live with it as long as it is covered by paint that is in good shape. If chipping or peeling are present, however, danger may be present. To remove that danger, the best course of action is to hire an experienced contractor to get the job done. Leaving the premises and sealing your personal items and furniture in plastic will aid in keeping lead based paint chips from finding their way into those items. Turning off your HVAC while the work is being conducted will help stop the spread of contaminated dust through your home as well.


Once the work is complete, be sure to give your home a thorough cleaning before moving back inside. A good start to this process is vacuuming with a HEPA filter and following up with a mopping effort. Once all of the construction materials have been removed and properly disposed of and the home cleaned, it will be time for you move back in and begin enjoying life in a home free of lead.

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