Lead-Based Paint in Homes
Did you know that 75 percent of homes that were built before 1978 contained some form of lead-based paint? It has been found that exposure to lead-based paint can be unsafe for children and adults alike. While there are temporary and permanent measures that you can take to reduce exposure, it all begins with testing to see if the paint in the older home is in fact lead-based.
Lead in the home can go undetected as it is not something that is seen, smelled or tasted. Lead was once used in a whole host of other products before its dangerous effects were known. Other sources included pottery, gasoline and even water pipes. Unfortunately, lead is not able to break down naturally. Therefore, it remains a problem until it is actually removed.
Reducing Exposure to Lead
The Lead Hazard Control Program began in 1993 and, since then, there has been a reduction by 70% of childhood lead poisoning cases. Exposure to lead (especially in children) can lead to learning disorders, behavioral problems, slow mental development and other issues. Cases of severe lead poisoning, whether in children or adults, can lead to poor muscle coordination, kidney damage and harm to the brain.
Lead-Based Paint in the Home
In homes built before 1978, lead may be found in the interior woodwork, windows, doors and exterior-painted surfaces. Homes that were built in the 1950s had an especially heavily-leaded paint used and, from 1960 through 1977, lower levels of lead were used in paint. It was in 1978 that the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission prohibited the use of lead-based paint in housing. Thus, when looking at older homes one must realize the risk that is associated with lead-based paint. The exposure to lead has a variety of ways to get into one’s system from the lead-based paint chip all the way to dust that can get into the furniture, toys, and flooring.
Congress approved the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act (otherwise known as Title X) in order to protect families from lead exposure. Now all sellers (and landlords) of properties built prior to 1978 must disclose information about lead-based paint and its hazards. By doing so the buyer (or renter) has 10 days to have lead-hazard testing completed. In addition, the buyer (or renter) must receive the EPA’s pamphlet on how to “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” which provides further details about the risks of lead-based paint.
One survey by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) showed that roughly 38 million pre-1978 dwellings in the United States have lead-based paint. Another estimation by the EPA shows that 24% of all homes built between 1960 through 1978 have some form of lead-based paint and 87% of homes built prior to 1940 do. There are federal standards for lead-based paint in housing which has lead content in paint that equals or exceeds 1.0 milligrams per square centimeter.
Homeowners Listen Up
If you have a professional repair or renovate areas of your home that have lead-based paint, then they are mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to abide by lead-safe work practices. Whether you plan on doing the work yourself or hiring someone, there are a variety of costs ranging from the respirators to plastic sheeting and lead-testing kits. Click here if you would like to learn more about testing resources for lead-based paint. If you would like to find local Massachusetts EPA certified renovation companies then click here. As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to ensure that you and your family are protected from harmful exposure to lead as well as providing full disclosure to the buyer should you put your home up for sale.
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