Lead Paint: What To Do If You Suspect Your Home Is Affected

When our family quickly began outgrowing our home, my husband and I couldn't decide whether to add onto our current home or move into a larger one. One day, when we were checking the local area looking for "home for sale" signs, we saw a sign we couldn't take our eyes off -- there was a large plot of land for sale for a great price in a great location. We had never thought of building our own home before, but after a little research, we realized that it wasn't as costly as we thought, especially considering the great deal we got on the land. The entire process was a learning experience, but thankfully, the building team was very pleasant and helpful. We now love our new home, and I am excited to share our experience on our new blog. I also plan to post many planning and construction tips!

Lead Paint: What To Do If You Suspect Your Home Is Affected

5 July 2016
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Articles

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, if your home was constructed before 1978, there is a chance it contains lead paint. Even if your walls feature several layers of paint, there is still a chance the original paint contains lead. Lead paint poses a serious health risk, especially to children, pets and pregnant woman. If you suspect your home features lead paint, here are some tips on what to do next:

Why Is Lead So Dangerous?

Although lead is a naturally-occurring metal, it is highly toxic and negatively impacts various organ systems, including the nervous system. If a child is exposed to lead-based paint, they can suffer from a number of medical issues, including seizures, learning disabilities and in the worse cases, even death.

Typically, if your home features lead paint that isn't chipping, it poses a minimal risk to your child and pets. However, if the paint is chipping, it is easy for a curious toddler to come into contact or even consume the dangerous lead-based product.

According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, it is vital to begin having your child tested for lead by the age of two if your home was constructed prior to 1978.

How Can I Tell If My Home Has Lead Paint?

Unfortunately, lead-based paint doesn't appear or smell any different than safe paint products. Instead, if your home was built before 1978, it is critical to have the paint tested by professional house painters or specialists. It is especially important to have your home's walls tested for lead-based paint if you are planning to scrape off the paint or renovate.

The process of repainting and renovating can cause lead dust particles to be released into the air, which is very dangerous for all of your family members.

The inspector will test your home for lead paint using one or both of the following methods:

  • A non-invasive test that doesn't involve the removal of any paint samples uses a portable XRF, or X-Ray fluorescence machine. The inspector will run the XRF over every wall in your home, both inside and outside. The test will automatically provide you with information about the presence of lead-based paint.
  • In some cases, the XRF test is inconclusive. When this occurs, the inspector will actually remove several small portions of paint from different areas of your home. The samples are then sent to a United States Environmental Protection Agency testing center.

Once the paint is tested, it will provide you with the areas that contain any lead-based product. If your home's interior or exterior test positive, it is important to have a professional determine if the lead paint should be eliminated.

What Should I Do If My Home Has Lead Paint?

If your home features lead paint and a professional advises you to have it removed, it is important to hire a lead paint abatement contractor. This professional will either remove the lead paint, or apply a specialized sealant that will protect your family and pets from any future exposure.

While you're waiting to have the lead paint either removed or sealed, there are steps you can take to protect your family. For example, throw away any paint chips and do not allow you children and pets to play in any areas that feature peeling paint. If you notice your child consuming any paint chips, immediately contact your physician.

Millions of American families live in homes that feature lead paint. If your home was constructed prior to 1978, it is vital that you have the painted surfaces tested for lead, especially if they are damaged or chipping. If you discover lead-based paint, don't hesitate to hire a professional to have the paint either removed or sealed.