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Ammunition, fishing line, garden hoses, and many paint products all include lead, a heavy metal that can be very poisonous. In this article, we will discuss some of the dangers of lead paint and why it’s a good idea to have a professional take on your next interior or exterior painting project. 

Lead poisoning can affect everyone, and there is no established safe blood lead level. Adults can experience muscle weakness, discomfort, paraesthesia (“pins and needles”), nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation as symptoms of lead poisoning. 

Due to their developing bodies, children are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning. Lead can harm a child’s internal organs, brain, and nervous system, impair growth and development and cause issues with hearing, speech, learning, and behavior when it is inhaled or swallowed. High lead exposure levels might cause unconsciousness or even death. The youngster may frequently show no overt symptoms until after there has been irreversible harm.

Lead is so hazardous that only a small amount is required to harm a child; this means that a little goes a long way. 

The Risks of Lead Paint

Lead can harm the brain and other important organs, and it can also result in behavioral issues, learning difficulties, seizures, and even death. Young children and expectant mothers are particularly in danger, but lead exposure can cause health issues in people (and animals) of any age.

Houses Painted With Lead

Lead-based paint contains a significant quantity of lead, and the Environmental Protection Agency lists it as one of the main sources of lead poisoning. In comparison to homes built between 1960 and 1977, which contain only 24 percent lead-based paint, the EPA estimates that 87 percent of homes built before 1940 do. 

Although the United States federal government banned the use of lead-based paint in consumer settings in 1978 (and certain states outlawed it much earlier), many, many homes and rental properties across the nation still have traces of it.

How to Protect Your Family from the Risks of Lead Paint

You should be fine if your house was built after 1978. (However, if you want to feel at ease, a fast swab test is not terribly expensive.)

You might not be immediately in danger even if your house was built before 1978. Just make sure the paint on your walls is in good shape and not fading. The lead-based paint on the walls can cause household dust to contain lead, but if you are careful while vacuuming and dusting (and keep the paint in high-traffic places like windows, window sills, doors, door frames, and stairs), the lead-based paint shouldn’t be a problem.

As an EPA lead-safe certified contractor and the proprietor of Five Star Painting in Colorado Springs, Mark Lambert asserts that you do not need to treat an area for lead-based paint if you are not going to disturb the surface.

However, if you have kids in your house, watch out for them when they put their hands in their mouths after touching walls or other paint-covered surfaces like railings. Consider treating any surfaces with lead paint to keep kids entirely safe.

The Most Dangerous Time to Use Lead Paint

When lead-based paint is aging—peeling, flaking, chalking, cracking, etc.—this is when it is most hazardous. If you intend to disturb the paint for a significant renovation, repair, or even a new coat, proceed with utmost caution. These processes may produce hazardous lead dust.

The worry is that you would breathe it in if you were to disturb the surface and produce dust and flakes that would become airborne, according to Lambert. Therefore, you must treat it for lead.

According to Lambert, painters must put on filtered masks, specialized coveralls, and gloves to prevent coming into touch with deadly lead dust. If not a whole-house makeover, they must also seal the space to prevent dust from spreading to adjacent rooms and properly dispose of any items, especially if demolition is involved.

Laws on Lead-Painted Surfaces

The EPA unveiled a new initiative in December 2020 to better safeguard American children from the risks of lead. The clearance standards for the levels of lead that may persist in the dust on floors and window sills following lead removal activities will be lowered by this final rule. 

In comparison to the previous thresholds of 40 g/ft2 for floor dust and 250 g/ft2 for window sill dust, the EPA’s revised clearance criteria for lead in dust are 10 micrograms (g) per square foot (ft2) for floor dust and 100 g/ft2 for window sill dust.

Contractors are required by law to take these actions and other lead-safe work practices (regulated by the Renovation, Repair, and Painting, or RPR, Rule) if lead paint is present in order to lessen the danger to workers, homeowners, and the neighborhood. A significant fine may be assessed for breaking these regulations. (Magnolia Homes, the home remodeling company owned by Chip and Joanna Gaines, reached a settlement with the EPA in 2018 for breaking these rules.)

Although it may sound frightening, knowledge is power. Regardless of whether you have plans to remodel your home, being aware of the presence of lead paint enables you to take the proper measures.

When to Employ Experts

You can engage a risk assessor or inspector to look for lead dangers on specific surfaces or throughout your entire home. At epa.gov/lead, you may locate a licensed inspector in your area. Include a lead paint test in the inspection process if you’re thinking of purchasing an older home. Although sellers are required to declare the existence of lead paint, they may be ignorant of its presence.

Ask prospective contractors about lead paint testing if you already own a home and know (or think) that it was constructed before 1978. Some people might not think to check to see if a house was built after 1978, and not everyone is certified to deal with lead paint. 

Dealing with lead-based paint makes jobs more challenging and expensive; Lambert claims that it can increase the price by at least 25%. Because they would have to increase their bids and run the risk of losing the work, some contractors would decide against suggesting a test.

If you want to protect your family from the dangers of lead, it may be best to hire professionals.

Remove Lead Paint Yourself

While it may seem tempting, it can be risky to remove lead paint on your own. We do not recommend this as a “DIY” project. Contact a professional, like Gonzalez Painters & Contractors to help you safely handle this issue. 

We can help you repaint the walls with lead-free paint if lead paint test results are positive in your home. 

For more information on lead paint and questions regarding regulations in your state, visit the EPA website.

Contact Gonzalez Painters & Contractors

When you need interior painting services and exterior painting services, or other residential contracting services for roofingsidinggutter, or drywall, call Gonzalez Painters & Contractors at (919) 477-6058 or contact us online. We have been serving the Triangle area since 2000, and are the name to trust for painting and home contracting services in DurhamApexHillsboroughChapel HillCaryRaleighCarrboro, and other nearby locations.

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