If you live in a home that was built before 1978 then there is a good chance that it contains lead-based paint. If you are planning any major renovations or works on your home, you need to know whether there is lead paint present. This is because any chips or flakes of paint that contains lead can present a hazard to the health of your home’s occupants.
Since 1978, lead-based paints have been banned from use in the home due to the serious impact that lead can have on human health. Some states had enacted lead bans long before the federal government caught up. Lead paint is one of the most common sources of lead poisoning, as is lead-contaminated dust.
Why Do I Need to Worry About Lead?
If your home is old enough to contain lead-based paints, then this is something that you need to be aware of whenever you undertake any DIY work in your home. If you think lead might be present in the surroundings then you need to establish this well ahead of time so you can ensure you take the proper safety precautions, such as using respirators and doing your best to contain potentially toxic lead.
Lead presents a particularly serious hazard for young children. It is, therefore, important that young children are discouraged from licking or chewing any lead surfaces. Lead poisoning can cause a number of serious long- and short-term health issues and even small exposures can be serious when they are prolonged.
Lead Sources Inside the Home
If your house was built before 1978, make sure that you keep all of your painted surfaces in good shape and clean to avoid the accumulation of dust. Deteriorating household paint can lead to dust contaminated by lead. This dust will then become airborne if it is disturbed. If you have small pets like a hamster or small cat, lead-contaminated dust can be dangerous to their health.
The Environmental Protection Agency has found that lead safety violations are much more common than previously thought. It is, therefore, imperative that homeowners understand the danger that lead presents and how to minimize its presence in the home. Lead can leach into older pipework, causing your entire household to be exposed to lead.
Lead From Outside the Home
Soil that has been contaminated by lead can easily be tracked into the home, leading to further lead exposure. The severity of this will depend on how high the lead content in the contaminated soil is. For example, the soil around buildings that have been painted with lead-based paints will similarly be contaminated.
Lead exposure has the potential to cause a number of very serious health effects, both in the short and long term. While newer homes should be free of lead, any home built before 1978 will likely contain lead paint. If your home does contain lead paint, you should assume that the dust in your home is also contaminated with lead. Make sure to vacuum regularly and maintain your painted surfaces as best you can.