Lead-Based Paint: Everything You Need to Know!


Everything you may have wondered about lead-based paint.

In this comprehensive post, we'll go over;

  • When it was banned for consumer use.
  • What lead-based paint was used for.
  • Common health risks associated with lead.
  • How to identify lead paint.
  • How to prevent exposure and how to go about removal

So if you've ever asked yourself any of these questions, you'll love this post!

Danger: Lead-based paint rochester NY

What Happened in 1978?

What happened in 1978 with lead paint
 

1978 was a big year in the United States, and all over the world. Remember the comic, Garfield? The fat, lazy cat who loved spaghetti?

He was first featured in newspapers in 1978. Space invaders made its debut in the computer gaming world, and the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin was minted. 

The Son of Sam killer, David Berkowitz, who wreaked havoc in NY was finally convicted of murder. Top-grossing movies like Grease, Saturday Night Fever, and Halloween graced movie theaters and have become movie icons. 

So much more happened in history as well, but one thing we are all thankful for is when the Federal Government banned lead-based paint for consumer use.

With a growing number of children with health concerns, studies were finding the causes to be related to lead poisoning. Additional research led physicians to lead-based paint being used in homes.

 

What is Lead-Based Paint?

lead-based paint on windowsill
 

For starters, lead is a natural element that can be found usually in the earth’s crust. It can also be found in the environment including the air, groundwater, soil, and inside our homes.

Lead was and can still be found in products including pipes, batteries, gasoline, sinkers for fishing, diving weight belts, and weights for lifting. 

Prior to 1978, lead was found in paint that was used both inside and outside of homes. This also included toys and costume jewelry.

Often, metal toys that have passed down generation to generation have been painted at one time or another with lead-based paint.

If it is so bad, why was it used?

Lead-based paint was known to be durable, resisted moisture, and always looked like a fresh coat of paint. It also allowed the paint to dry faster making it very marketable.

 

Health Risks of Lead Paint

Lead Levels test
 

Common areas around the home that may have lead-based paint can include doorways, doors, windowsills, walls, and old toys. When lead-based paint starts to peel, chip, crack, or become damp, it will pose a threat to health.

If any of the paint pieces are swallowed by a small child or animal, it can cause lead poisoning. When the paint starts to chalk or become dry and dusty, the dust particles can become airborne. When these particles are inhaled they can cause toxic effects.

Lead poisoning doesn’t happen overnight, it is a gradual build-up of the toxin within the body. This can often take months or years, but don’t let that fool you; even small amounts can cause health risks.

There are times that the lead toxicity is not known, and the symptoms of lead poisoning are mistaken for other health issues. Not until a blood test is conducted can it be known for sure.

*Levels between 5 mcg/dL and 45 mcg/dL are unsafe for children*

It is important if you have children under the age of 6 or if you are pregnant or recently gave birth to be on the lookout for specific symptoms of lead poisoning.

Symptoms in Newborns

  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Slow or stunted growth

Symptoms in Children

  • Developmental delays or disabilities
  • Learning difficulties
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Appetite changes and weight loss
  • Feeling tired or sluggish
  • Abdominal pain with or without vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Hearing impairments
  • Seizures
  • Pica (eating things that are not food like chalk or paint chips)

Symptoms in Adults

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Constant joint and muscle pain (unrelated to other causes)
  • Memory and/or concentration difficulties
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Mood disorders
  • Reproductive issues in Men
  • Premature birth, miscarriage or stillbirth in pregnant women

The above symptoms are commonly noticed in those with lead poisoning but are not the only symptoms. Others can include organ damage, nerve damage, and other serious health-related problems.

Thankfully technology and medicine have evolved, and lead poisoning can be treated. Usually just removing or avoiding the source is enough to reduce the levels of lead within the body.

If there are higher levels of lead, there are other treatments available by injections from a physician.

 

How to Identify Lead Paint

XRF used to test for lead in paint
 

Many houses built prior to 1978 that have not been renovated are likely to have lead-based paint. While not all houses will have it, if your home is older you should take note of the possibility.

If the paint inside or outside of your home begins to chip away or start peeling, that can be an indicator it is a lead type of paint.

If you are looking to renovate your home, sell or rent it, you should have a lead paint test and inspection. Rock Environmental is trained and certified for Lead Paint removal in Rochester, NY, and surrounding areas.

If you are renting out your home, you are then bound by legal responsibilities as a landlord to inform residents of lead-based paint exposure or for the lead paint removal.

A lead paint test and inspections are the best ways to confirm the presence of lead-based paint in a home. If you are renovating your home, having Rock Environmental perform a lead paint inspection is important.

The last thing you want to do is begin cutting up or sanding walls and risk spreading paint dust throughout the air that is possibly contaminated with lead.

During the inspection, the assessor will take paint samples and likely send them to an outside lab for further testing. There is also an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) that can be used to scan for the lead.

This allows for smoother testing as it does not pose risk to damaging or spreading paint particles. There are also additional assessments that can be conducted. These include a risk assessment and a hazard screen.

The risk assessment includes sampling only areas that have chipping/peeling paint or looks to have been bit or chewed. Often, small children are found to bite areas with lead-based paint like windowsills.

Unaffected areas are not tested, so a negative result does not necessarily mean there isn’t any lead paint in the home. A hazard screen is not as extensive as a risk assessment.

This type of assessment only includes two samples, one from dust on the floor and another from the dust on a windowsill.

While there are home testing kits for lead, the EPA does not recommend this as there is an exposure risk to you. It is best to leave it up to the professionals at Rock Environmental to do this for you.

 

Lead Paint Prevention

preventing lead poisoning
 

After testing and inspection have been completed, you learn that your home does in fact contain lead-paint.

There are some temporary measures you can take to help reduce the exposure to you and your family.

  • Keep surfaces dust-free. This includes windowsills and floors. You can use a damp towel, mop, or sponge to help pick up the dust and not spread it elsewhere within the home.
  • Monitor small children to be sure they are not putting things in their mouths that they shouldn’t. Some children will chew on things that are within their reach, so lower-level windowsills and doorways.
  • Keep play areas both indoors and outdoors clean.
  • If you notice ANY paint chips on the floor or mixed in soil outdoors, clean up immediately.
  • Remove your shoes when coming inside to make sure you are not tracking in any contaminated soil.
  • If you are renting your home, inform the landlord straight away of positive results from the inspection, or if you find chipping or peeling paint. You should also do this if you or child tests positive for lead poisoning.
     

    Professional Lead Paint Removal

    Lead Hazard - Keep Out
     

    Lead paint removal or abatement is strongly suggested to be completed by a certified professional. Rock Environmental is HAZWOPER trained and IICRC certified.

    Being a lead-based paint removal service provider, our professionals are committed to the safety and health of you and your family.

    When the presence of lead is discovered, it is important to take care of it right away, especially if you are pregnant or have small children in the home. We start with sealing off the affected area using plastic sheeting and tape.

    We also wear protective clothing and masks to ensure we are protected from the exposure as well. If the whole home has been affected, it is recommended to leave during the removal process.

    We will scrape or sand off any paint that has been chipping or peeling. Paint in this stage is more dangerous than paint that hasn’t chipped or peeled.

    When the paint has been removed, it will be cleared up from the home or property and properly disposed to be sure further exposure isn’t a risk. 

    If the paint has not started to chip or peel, we can effectively seal the area with special materials that will ensure the paint does not become a further risk.

    Once all traces of the lead paint have been removed or sealed, you can come back to the home and renovation can be completed.

    Rock Environmental will work with your insurance company if necessary. Additionally, depending on where you live, you may be eligible to receive government funding for lead paint removal services.

    The Rochester, NY area was granted 5 million dollars in federal funding to help fight lead poisoning in children. In 2017 alone, 625 children were diagnosed with lead poisoning. Don’t let your family be exposed to lead-based paint!

      If you or someone you know have any concerns regarding lead-based paint, call our Rock Environmental professionals at 585-340-6799. Or click the button below to send us a message!

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