Chances are very good that if you enjoy doing home improvement projects you’ve probably been exposed to lead paint at one time or another. Most homes built before 1978 contain some amounts of lead based paints. Homes built prior to 1950 contained paints with even higher levels of lead.
That is why lead paint safety is so important when working on home improvement projects. Even the smallest home improvement project like painting can be very hazardous for you and your family. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control publishes Lead Paint Safety which outlines some great information about lead paint and safety precautions that should be taken.
Even though there is a vast amount of information available about lead paint safety it’s really not a job for the do-it-yourself person. Lead paint remediation is best left to professionals.
“There is no completely safe method for “do-it-yourself” removal of lead-based paint, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Each of the paint-removal methods – sandpaper, scrapers, chemicals, and torches or heat guns – can produce lead fumes or dust. Fumes or dust can become airborne and be inhaled. Further, dust can settle on floors, walls, and tables, and can cause problems. It can be ingested by children from hand-to-mouth contact. It can re-enter the air through cleaning (such as sweeping or vacuuming) or by movements of people throughout the house. Lead-based paint should be removed only by professionals, trained in hazardous material removal, who follow detailed procedures to control and contain lead dust.”
One of the best approaches to dealing with lead paint exposure is to assume that your house contains lead paint unless it’s been built in the last 20 years. Having made that assumption you should take the time to test the paint in the area that you’ll be working. Today you can test for lead based paint by using DIY lead paint test kits. You can buy them at your local hardware store or online at Amazon (Leadcheck® Lead Test Kits).
The key is to take the time to test for lead paint and then respect the hazard that it is. No amount of money saved on a home improvement project is worth the risked exposure to a cancer causing material like lead paint. If you’re interested in learning more about lead paint poisoning you may want to read this book that’s available at Amazon:
Old Paint: A Medical History of Childhood Lead-Paint Poisoning in the United States to 1980