Lead-based paint that is in good condition is usually not a hazard.
Lead poisoning is considered by many to be the number one environmental threat to children. High concentrations of lead in the body can cause permanent brain damage.
Lower concentrations can result in reading disorders and hyperactivity and can affect a child’s ability to perform in school.
Unfortunately for these kids, lead poisoning is entirely preventable.
It is estimated that two-thirds of all homes built before 1940, and one-third of all home built between 1940 and 1960, contain heavily leaded paint.
A smaller percentage of homes built between 1960 and 1980 also had surfaces applied with lead-based paint.
In 1978, the Consumer Product Safety Commission lowered the legal maximum lead content in most paints to trace amounts, so houses built after 1978 should be relatively free of lead paint.
Older homes with lead-based paint that is peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking, is a hazard, and requires immediate attention, say Omar from FIT Properties.
When found on surfaces that children can chew on or on surfaces that get normal wear and tear (such as windows and window sills, doors and door frames, stairs, railings, and banisters, and porches and fences), lead-based paint may also be a hazard.
Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is dry scraped, dry sanded, or heated. Dust also forms when surfaces slide, bump, or are rubbed together. Lead chips and dust get on surfaces and objects that people touch.
Settled lead dust can reenter the air when people vacuum, sweep or just walk through it.
Lead exposure can harm young children and babies, even before they are born.
Even children that seem healthy can have high levels of lead in their bodies. People get lead in their bodies by breathing or swallowing lead dust, or by eating soil or paint chips with lead in them.
Removing lead-based paint improperly can increase the danger to your family.
If you are planning on buying a house that has lead-based paint on the walls and trim, there are several options you may take.
If the paint is in good condition and there is little possibility that the paint dust or chips will be swallowed by children, then leave it undisturbed.
Damaged or deteriorating sections of paint on the walls or ceilings should be covered with a nonleaded paint, drywall, or some other encapsulating material.
You can also have the paint removed (this process can produce lead dust or fumes and should be performed by a professional).
If you suspect that your house has lead hazards you can take steps to reduce your family’s risk.
Clean-up paint chips immediately. Clean floors, window frames, window sills, stairs and porches, weekly (thoroughly rinse sponges and mops after cleaning dirty or dusty areas).
Wash children’s hands frequently, especially before meals and before naps or bed time.
Keep play areas clean.
Remove shoes before entering your house to prevent tracking in lead from soil.
Eat healthy (children with good diets absorb less lead).