Lead Paint Testing – Why Is It Necessary?
Scientists have found that even low levels of exposure to lead can be harmful to children’s health and development. pregnant women are also very susceptible to low levels of lead paint exposure. Removing or disturbing paint as part of a renovation project may expose you and your family to lead. Before you begin renovations, or buy a new house consider having a lead paint test done to verify the air quality of your home. Consider the following information in order to minimize the health risks to you and your family.
What are the health hazards of lead exposure?
Exposure to high concentrations of lead is hazardous for your health. Anemia and impaired brain and nervous system functions can occur when you are exposed to high levels of lead for extended periods of time. Even low levels of exposure to lead can also have serious health effects, such as learning disorders and behavioral problems in infants and children.
Lead exposure has decreased over the years, but lead is still a problem to the overall public. It is important to reduce your exposure to lead sources so you can minimize your health risks. Lead-based paint is a dangerous lead source as well as artist supplies. lead dust and gasoline sold outside of Canada and USA. You can take precautions to reduce your exposure however.
Here is a list of symptoms that can arise from lead poisoning:
- abdominal pain
- abdominal cramps
- aggressive behavior
- sleep problems
- loss of developmental skills in children
- loss of appetite
- high blood pressure
- numbness or tingling in the extremities
- memory loss
- kidney dysfunction
Who is at higher risk of lead exposure?
Children and pregnant women are most susceptible to lead exposure. Toddlers and infants are at risk when crawling and playing on floors containing lead chips or dust. Children can ingest lead by swallowing lead paint chips, or putting their hands, toys and other objects that have come in contact with lead dusts in their mouths. Once swallowed, children and youths absorb more lead into their bodies compared to adults. For pregnant women, even low levels of lead can affect the growth of the developing fetus.
Does my home contain lead-based paint?
Prior to 1960 homes, apartments, condos, and buildings were most likely painted inside and outside with lead-based paint. Newer home construction, particularly those painted before 1980, may also contain lead paint. Homes built after 1980 are very unlikely to have lead-based paint but some DIY’ers use exterior paint indoors and exterior paint contains lead. If a paint contains lead, the paint will have a warning label. Lead paint should never be used inside a home or building.
Any paint containing more than 0.009% lead has to be labeled in Canada since 2010. The lead-based paint must be labeled to indicate that it is not safe to use in areas accessible to children or pregnant women. If you are painting your home, make sure that the paint you buy is for interior, or inside use only.
How can I test my home?
If your home was built before 1980, check painted surfaces for lead by using a home lead test kit or sending a sample to a certified laboratory. Contact your local public health unit for more information. A licensed contractor can also tell you if your house has leaded paint. For best results have a lead paint check done be a certified air quality inspector.
Should lead-based paint be removed?
If lead paint testing reveals you have high levels of lead, lowering exposure and remediation are recommended. Ingestion is the most common exposure to lead-based paint, so be extra vigilant to identify chipped, flaking, crushed or paint sanded to dust. As long as the paint is not chipping, flaking, crushed or sanded into dust, lead-based paint does not present a health hazard.
If any of these conditions occur you can cover lead paint surfaces in good condition with non-lead paint, vinyl wallpaper, wallboard or paneling.
Disturbing surfaces with lead paint creates hazardous lead dust, even if the lead paint is covered with new paint. If you are planning on removing lead-based paint from walls, ceilings, and other structures, when sanding or knocking down a wall, follow these safety guidelines outlined below. Following these steps will help protect you and your family’s health during renovations. If you are not confident removing lead paint, it would be a good idea to hire a trained professional.
How do I safely remove lead-based paint?
Protect your family
Relocate toddlers, preschool children, young children and women who are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant. Children and pregnant women are more sensitive to the effects of lead than adults. If your home becomes contaminated with lead dust during renovations, move toddlers, preschool children, and pregnant women elsewhere until the renovation is complete.
Protect yourself with PPE
P.P.E. is mandatory. Coveralls, goggles, gloves, and most importantly, a COHSA approved respirator(N100, R100, or P100 filter(s)) for dust, mist, and fumes to reduce the possible intake of lead should all be worn. A qualified air consultant or your local safety equipment supplier can find the right P.P.E. for you. Avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in an area where lead paint is being disturbed.
Preparing the area
Remove children and pets from the area and seal all heating vents to prevent spreading paint chips and dust to other parts of the home or dwelling.
Create barriers at the entrance to the working area with plastic to contain lead dust. Remove all furnishings and decorations that are portable. Drapes, rugs, furniture, appliances, household and personal items. Cover all objects that cannot be moved, including the floor, with heavy plastic, and seal with tape. Spraying the working area with water and a small amount of detergent will contain any dust during renovations or clean-up.
Working outdoors has a few challenges as well. Use drop sheets to catch any paint scrapings, and do not work on windy days. Be sure to cover windows and doors with plastic to keep lead paint scrapings and dust out of the home or occupied building.
Use safe stripping techniques
Mechanical and chemical stripping are two of the more popular ways to remove lead paint. Chemical stripping produces the least amount of lead dust but chemical strippers contain potentially harmful substances, so always follow manufacturers directions with care. Mechanical sanding or grinding is used frequently but produces more lead dust.
Control the spread of dust
Forced air heating and air conditioning systems can spread lead dust so turn off and cover all heating and cooling vents with taped plastic sheeting. Leave yoir protective clothing and footwear at the work area whenever possible. When finished the project or you want to wash your work clothes. Wash them separately from your personal laundry or discard them.
Clean up daily
Prevent dust from spreading at the end of every day. Wetting the dust and wet-wiping will help clean up and keep lead dust to a minimum. Be sure all lead dust is in waste containers that are secured or in a sealed plastic bag and label the bags as hazardous waste. Only use a vacuum cleaner with HEPA certification. Good daily hygeine is also important. Clean and wipe your hands, face, tools, and your personal protective equipment once your work is done .
Final inspection and cleaning
Do a final clean-up after at least 1 day after completing work to let any lead dust settle. Dispose of the plastic used to contain the area and place in a sealed plastic bag. Follow local regulations for disposing of lead-contaminated waste.
My Promise to You
Choosing the right inspection service provider can be difficult. Unlike most professionals you hire, you probably won’t meet me until your inspection appointment–after you’ve hired. Furthermore, different inspectors have varying qualifications, equipment, experience, reporting methods, and pricing. One thing that’s certain is that a thorough inspection requires a lot of work. Ultimately, a quality inspection depends heavily on the individual inspector’s effort. I guarantee that I will give you my very best.
— Steven Letendre
Admirable Inspection Services