The use of lead-based paint in a home application was banned in the U.S. in 1978. Prior to this, a lead was commonly added to paint as it increased the durability of the paint, shortened drying time, and helped the paint resist moisture and corrosion. As of April 2010, all contractors that work in a potential lead-contaminated environment must be certified by the EPA to do so.
Pagenstecher Group were among the first in the Washington Area to achieve EPA Lead Certification.
If you’re considering remodeling an older home, you should be aware of the dangers of possible lead poisoning due to exposure to lead-based paint. Remodeling activities, such as sanding or removal of lead-based paints, can create dangerous dust and paint chips. Ingestion and inhalation are the most common ways for a lead to enter the body.
Lead poisoning can lead to permanent developmental and behavioral problems in children who are exposed at ages younger than six, but it affects the health of adults as well. Even a small amount of lead in your system can lead to a wide variety of health issues, such as reproductive problems, high blood pressure, kidney failure, and convulsions. Pregnant women can transfer lead to their unborn child. Even pets are susceptible to lead poisoning.
If you aren’t sure about the lead content of the paint in your home, there are several steps you can take to find out. If your home is old enough, you may just want to assume that the paint is lead-based. If your home was built before 1940, there’s an 87% chance that it contains lead. A building constructed between 1940 and 1960 has a 69% chance of containing lead, and a building built between 1960 and 1978 has only a 24% chance. Lead test kits, which are available at your local hardware store, can be used to determine the lead content of existing paint. Make sure the test you purchase has been approved by the EPA. Another option is to hire a certified inspector to determine which areas of your home contain lead-based paint. While work is being done, be mindful of your family’s exposure to lead. Consider the area where work is being done off limits or stay somewhere else temporarily.
- Do not enter and exit your home through work areas.
- Ensure that work areas are entirely sealed off from the rest of the house, including ductwork.
- Turn off heating and air conditioning.
- Securely cover furniture that can’t be moved.
- Ensure a thorough cleanup.
If you have lead paint in your home, be sure to work with a certified contractor to ensure proper removal. Ask to see their certification. Before work begins, review plans with your contractor on how they plan to confine dust to the work areas and ensure proper cleanup after the work is completed.
Know the facts before you start. Get more information by calling 1-800-424-LEAD, or visit www.epa.gov/lead.