Should you be concerned about working in old houses that have lead based paint? Absolutely!
Should the presence of lead based paint make you shy away from old houses? Absolutely NOT!
Approximately 50% of the houses built prior to 1978 have some lead based paint. This accounts for a large percentage of the housing stock in America, and a very large percentage of the “deals” that you might find as you’re looking for your “House On A Dime!” Lead Paint Safety: A Field Guide for Painting, Home Maintenance, and Renovation Work states:
“In poorly maintained houses, lead-based paint, which may be several layers down, flakes and peels off. Paint failure is usually caused by moisture problems. Sometimes rubbing or impact causes paint failure. Doing work improperly can also cause a lot of dust. Lead-based paint chips and dust then mix with house dust and build up in window troughs and on floors. Children are endangered when lead in paint chips, dust, and soil gets on their hands and toys which they may put in their mouths. Lead can make children very sick and cause permanent brain and nerve damage. It can also result in learning difficulties and behavior problems. This damage is irreversible. It is a tragedy we can prevent. If paint is kept intact and surfaces are kept clean, children can live safely in a home painted with lead-based paint. Uncontrolled or uncontained dust and debris from repainting and/or renovation that disturbs lead-based paint in a well-maintained home can also expose children to unsafe levels of lead.”
Some of the things to keep in mind when performing renovations in homes that contain lead based paint:
- Keep dust to a minimum.
- Confine dust and paint chips to the work area.
- Clean up during and after the work.
- Ensure that all lead-contaminated dust is removed.
Effective immediately, all contractors who are being paid for their services, who disturb more than 6 square feet of interior surfaces, or 20 square feet of exterior surfaces must be Certified by the EPA and must use lead safe practices in homes built prior to 1978 if lead is present. As a homeowner, you are not required to be Certified, but you are highly encouraged to follow Lead Safe Renovation procedures. Lead poisoning is serious, especially in children.
How do you determine if your home contains lead? Currently, only one test kit is certified by the EPA to perform a lead test. You can use this kit to spot test for the presence of lead. You might also choose to hire a lab to come out and perform a more detailed test. In our area, it runs around $200.00, depending on the size and scope of your renovation.
For more detailed information, check out the following: