The EPA estimates that 38 million housing units contain lead-based paint; most developers used it as early as the 1920s as an additive to paint because it made the colors brighter and vibrant. Lead has many valuable properties in paints and products such as linoleum, rubber products, pottery glazes, hair dyes, and gasoline.
Lead from paint chips can pose serious health hazards in homes built in the 70s if not removed properly. Once you rent or own property made before 1978, you need to know this hazard. Lead paint was banned in the United States in 1978 because of its toxicity to children. The lead in the paint can cause severe health problems, such as learning disabilities and behavioral issues. Lead paint can also cause severe damage to a child’s reproductive system, kidneys, and nervous system.
Steps you Should Take to Protect Yourself and Your Family From Exposure to Lead
- Hire a certified inspector to assess your home and identify any lead areas.
- Make sure they do not use XRF (x-ray fluorescence) as these machines may provide inaccurate readings.
- Hire an accredited lab to perform tests on the suspected areas
- Consult an attorney if you rent or own a building built before 1978, as state and federal laws require landlords and homeowners to disclose this information.
- Lead may be present in paint, dust, soil, or water. Have your home tested for lead before starting a renovation project that may generate dust. You should also keep children away from windows with chipping or peeling paint and clean up paint chips immediately.
- Suppose you suspect your home was painted with lead-based paint when removing lead-based paint. In that case, you must use proper safety precautions such as wearing protective clothing and respirators and disposing of wastes properly.
There are also regulations on how you should perform renovations. For example, suppose more than 6 square feet of interior space will be disturbed, or more than 20 square feet of exterior space will be disturbed. In that case, you must follow EPA regulations when performing the renovations. Wondering how to remove lead paint safely? Here’s how.
Process of Lead Removal
- Remove all loose paint in the area using a paint scraper, wire brush, or another tool. Ensure that all surfaces are clean and smooth.
- If necessary, wash the area with soap and water to remove any dirt or oil that may prevent the primer from adhering correctly.
- Apply two coats of the lead-based paint encapsulant primer to the surface to prevent any remaining paint from becoming airborne.
- After allowing each coat of primer to dry, apply two coats of exterior latex paint over top of the primer to seal it in place. The paint will help protect against moisture damage and provide an attractive finish to the surface.
- You shouldn’t use Sanders or abrasive methods to remove lead-based paint because they generate a lot of lead dust which is easily inhaled by workers and residents in the building and which may leave a fine residue that is difficult to clean up thoroughly; instead, use liquid paint removers containing methylene chloride (dichloromethane), heat guns operating at less than 1000 degrees Fahrenheit (540 degrees Celsius),
- Allow all finishes to dry thoroughly before using or touching the surface.
- Dispose of all lead-contaminated materials according to local, state, and federal laws; do not dispose of any materials in household trash or down sewer drains or toilets.
- Clean up carefully after each work session using wet methods and HEPA vacuums to prevent the spread of dust or debris into other areas of the home or yard.
- Conduct post-removal testing to ensure that all lead paint has been removed successfully and that no further clean-up is required.
Whether you have lead-based paint or not, there are some things you can do to make sure your home is safe:
- Don’t smoke inside your home.
- Clean up dust from painted surfaces regularly with a damp cloth or mop.
- Wash toys and bottles often.
- Keep painted walls and other surfaces in good condition so that the paint does not chip or peel off.
Lead paint removal is not a simple task, follow these steps, and you should control your lead paint problem. While you can complete it successfully with a bit of knowledge and preparation, doing so without a skilled professional at your side can be hazardous as countless dangers are lurking in the paint flakes. There’s no reason to risk your health or the health of any family members if a professional does the job correctly. Do your research and protect your home by hiring a pro instead.