Are you concerned about the presence of lead in your home? You have cause to be worried, as lead poisoning presents a serious health concern, especially for children. Many Americans live in older properties built before we were fully aware of the dangers lead poses. Lead paint is commonly present in these older homes, as lead can linger in our environment if not properly cleaned up.
Who should worry about lead in their homes?
The median age of a U.S. home is 37 years, with homes in the Northeast averaging 57-58 years. The older your home, the more you should be concerned about its potential for having lead-based paint. Houses constructed before 1978 often contain lead-based paints. That’s the year that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enacted stricter laws to prevent lead paint and residue from polluting our ground and water sources.
The EPA has found that 87% of homes built before 1940 have some lead-based paint present. Around one-quarter of homes built between 1960 and 1978 have some lead-based paint. If your home was built or remodeled during this time frame, your chances for lead-based paint exposure are higher.
How to test for lead
The good news about lead testing is it is readily available at most home improvement centers and hardware stores. These easy-to-use test kits help homeowners and lead testing professionals check for the presence of lead-based paints.
It’s advised to test any area of the home that you plan to renovate. Even if that area of the home may have been previously renovated, it’s in your best interest to test for lead.
The EPA recognizes two do-it-yourself lead paint test kits for their accuracy, ease of use, and ability to test different materials like wood, plaster, or ferrous metals such as iron. These two test kits are LeadCheck and D-Lead.
To use, pick a spot and carefully remove individual layers of paint. You want to check every paint layer. These do-it-yourself test kits will change color on the test strip or swab to show if lead is present in the paint sample.
For the most peace of mind, use a certified professional to check for lead-based paint. Lead-based paint can be inside or outside your home. This risk assessor will inspect the home to evaluate where the paint may be located and determine whether some or a portion of the property has lead-based paint.
What to do if you have a positive lead test
If the lead paint is in good condition– the surface hasn’t broken and isn’t peeling or chipping– it doesn’t necessarily pose a serious health threat. When the paint starts to deteriorate, lead dust and flakes will accumulate on surfaces like floors, countertops, windowsills, and bedding. Even the soil around the house can accumulate concentrations of lead.
Anyone can be affected by lead exposure, but young children under the age of 6 are more vulnerable because they tend to put things in their mouths. Their bodies also absorb more lead than adult bodies do, increasing the risk of nervous system damage.
Do your best to remove any paint chips and flakes. Leaving these around can increase lead dust in your environment and poses a risk to young children.
Remove your shoes whenever you enter the home, as this will prevent any lead dust from being tracked through your home. Do thorough cleanings of your home, paying special attention to windowsills and other flat surfaces such as kitchen counters. Clean these to remove any dust. Clean your air ducts regularly as they can accumulate lead-based dust and circulate them throughout your home.
Be extra vigilant about hand washing, especially before you eat or sleep.
Consult with a certified lead professional before you do any renovation, repairs, or painting projects. Launching these activities without proper lead-safe work practices or removal can create toxic lead dust that will spread beyond the work area as these surfaces are disturbed.
You need to know that painting over a damaged surface with lead-based paint is not enough to keep the lead away from your family. You’ll need to hire a certified lead abatement contractor to remove the paint or seal it with special materials permanently.
Removing lead from your home
If you are concerned about the presence of lead in your home, talk to an Aegis lead certified professional about running a test. These answers can provide you with vital information about the presence of lead in your home and your next steps.