Lead-Based Paint Dangers: What You Need to Know

There are many things to consider when purchasing a new-to-you home: its number of bedrooms, square footage, location, proximity to good schools, and more.

It can be overwhelming, which is why a lot of house hunters forget to ask about the unseen qualities of the home.

One such quality is the potential presence of lead paint. If lead paint dangers go unchecked, they could cause some severe health issues for you and your family over time. Thankfully, checking a home for lead paint is simple, and getting rid of it isn’t too difficult either.

In this article, Derek Hales from Modern Castle addresses what lead-based paint is, lead paint dangers, how to test for lead paint, and how to remove lead paint. Taking it seriously now will help you avoid problems down the road.

Lead Paint Overview

Lead was originally put into paint to increase its performance. Specifically, lead helps paint to dry more quickly and last longer without requiring as much maintenance as non-lead paint.

But in the early twentieth century, experts began to recognize lead paint dangers. By 1978, lead paint was completely banned for use in housing.

Lead Paint Dangers

Lead is a toxic compound and has many ill effects if people come into direct contact with it. Its toxicity when used in paint became known when children began to contract lead poisoning from toys coated with lead-based paint. Because kids tend to put things in their mouth, they—along with pregnant women and the elderly—are at an increased risk of lead contact.

Lead paint dangers to the body are inclusive since lead can disturb bodily functions across the board—from the immune system to the heart, liver, brain, kidneys, and more.

Not everyone who comes into brief contact with lead will fall ill, as it’s often consistent and repetitive exposure that eventually builds into lead poisoning. However, because of the drastic effects lead can have on a person’s body, it’s important that house hunters test for lead paint when purchasing a home—especially if that home was built before 1978.

Testing for Lead Paint

Thankfully, it’s simple to test for lead paint. You can either pay an expert to test for you or you can purchase a lead paint testing kit online—the Environmental Protection Agency recommends hiring a qualified professional.

If doing it yourself, remember that you need to test all layers of paint, as being painted over by a non-lead paint doesn’t necessarily diminish the toxicity of lead-based paint.

How to Remove Lead Paint

Obviously, if you discover the presence of lead paint in your home, you must have it removed immediately. Lead paint removal is a job best left to the professionals; however, some homeowners choose to take the task on themselves.

If you are one such person, be sure you are using full respiratory protection—a paper mask isn’t enough. Also, you have to ensure you don’t accidentally expose other parts of your home or the outside (soil can be another source of lead) to the compound in the form of dust or debris.

For more information on how to remove lead paint, check out the following resources:

Bob Vila: How to Remove Lead Paint

NY Department of Health: What You Need to Know About Working with Lead Paint