Prior to 1978 most house paint contained lead. The practice was stopped but unless the paint was removed, it still exists in homes.
Prior to 1978 most house paint contained lead. The practice was stopped but unless the paint was removed, it still exists in homes. Because of this, the government passed the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 that requires sellers and landlords to disclose any known presence of lead-based paint. Landlords must also provide the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pamphlet on the dangers of lead exposure to buyers and tenants.
The potential effects of lead poisoning are particularly devastating to children. The complications include brain and nervous system damage, behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, headaches and hearing problems. In adults it can cause reproductive problems in men and women, difficulty concentrating, muscle and joint pain, nerve disorders and high blood pressure. Complications arise when paint chips or dust is inhaled or ingested.
The older paint is most often exposed in peeling and chipped areas around windows, doors, fences, stairs and railings. Children should be encouraged to wash their hands before every meal if there’s a possibility that lead is present in the environment. Peeling paint should be immediately stripped, cleaned and repainted.
On April 22, 2010, the EPA issued the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule, which requires special certification for contractors working in homes, child care facilities and schools built before 1978. If the repair or remodeling work disturbs more than six square feet of lead-based paint, the paid renovators must be specially trained and certified by EPA-approved instructors. The Epa.gov website provides a list of training providers as well as a list of certified construction firms.
Testing for the presence of lead-based paint should be done by trained professionals. Some of the diagnostic tools include the use of a portable x-ray fluorescence machine and sending paint chips to a lab for analysis. Children between the ages of 1 and 2 should have their blood tested for lead if there’s reason to believe that they have been exposed.