Summer Smarts: Why Checking for Lead Paint Is Important
Testing for Lead Is Easy and Essential if You Have Young Children
If you’re planning on buying a new home this summer, or if you recently purchased one, checking the property for lead is one of the most important things you can do to help keep your family healthy. This is especially the case if you bought or are going to buy a home that’s older than homes built in 1978. If the home was built before the 1960s, then there is a near 100% chance the home has lead paint in it.
Here, we’ll discuss why testing for lead is so important and what you can do about it if you discover it on your property.
The Dangers of Lead Paint
Lead is a toxic metal that was once used as an additive in paint. The ingredient was responsible for helping speed up the drying process as well as improve the paint’s durability, resiliency, and resistance to moisture.
When lead paint is still in good condition, meaning it is not flaking, deteriorating, or producing dust, it is considered safe. But, once the paint starts breaking down, it will start accumulating on a home’s window sills, counter tops, and floors. Lead paint dust will also settle on clothes, children’s toys, and bedding. Even the soil around the house can become tainted with it if the exterior of the home is painted with lead paint.
Children under the age of six are most at risk for developing lead poisoning because they have a tendency to put their hands and other objects in their mouth. And, because children are still growing, their bodies can absorb higher levels of lead than adults. Once the lead reaches toxic proportions, a child can start suffering from behavioral problems, hearing problems, slowed growth, headaches, bone marrow disorders, kidney damage and brain and nerve disorders.
Women who are pregnant should also be removed from such situations as well because studies have linked lead poisoning to premature births, low-birth weights, and even with certain nerve and brain disorders in the fetus.
How to Test Your Home for Lead
Testing your home for lead can be accomplished a number of different ways. You can purchase a DIY test kit from your local home center or hardware store. These kits come complete with easy-to-follow directions and all of the tools you need to collect the samples while at the same time keeping you protected. The kit even comes with a pre-printed envelope for mailing the samples to an EPA-certified lab for testing. The results will be mailed back to you within two weeks’ time.
If the test result come back positive for lead, then you should contact an EPA-certified lead renovation, repair and painting (RRP) firm.
Renovating a Home With Lead Paint
It is not uncommon for a buyer of an older home to want to renovate it after closing. If the home was built prior to 1978, then you will need to have your home inspected by a certified lead inspector before starting renovation. If lead is discovered, then you will need to hire an EPA-certified lead renovation, repair and painting (RRP) firm to remove the affected area before your renovation can continue.
Keep in mind that lead paint that is in-tact is not a threat. It is only dangerous once it starts chipping and deteriorating. Also, while home tests can be self-satisfying, the EPA recommends that lead tests be conducted by either a certified lead inspector or a certified lead risk assessor, especially for pre-1978 homes.
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