If you’ve ever rented an older apartment or bought an older home, you’ve probably been warned about lead exposure and its associated risks. At the time, this may have seemed like a standard piece of paper you needed to sign before you could move in, but lead is a very real threat for many residents across the nation. As such, it’s important that you’re informed about the signs and risks of lead poisoning and how you can protect yourself and your family. Here is everything you need to know about lead paint in your home.
The Dangers of Lead-Based Paint
Initially used in early paint products to accelerate drying time and the overall durability of finished products, lead is a heavy metal mined from beneath the Earth’s crust. These paints were stronger and longer-lasting than anything else on the market, making them the logical choice for home painters for several years. However, as knowledge of chemicals’ effects on the human body grew, people came to realize these products could be harmful in various ways. Lead paint was officially banned from home application in 1978, but many homes built before that date still utilize them. As such, it’s important that you’re aware of the signs you could be at risk and how you should respond.
The primary health hazard associated with lead exposure is lead poisoning. We illustrate some of its potential consequences here:
Lead poisoning results from the ingestion of high quantities of lead over time and can lead to potentially serious damage to a person’s vital organs and base functions. Once lead makes its way into the bloodstream, an individual will often begin experiencing symptoms such as frequent headaches, stomachaches, nausea, tiredness, and irritability. All these traits are common signs that your body is fighting off a foreign chemical. As more lead concentrates in your blood, these signs will worsen and make you vulnerable to other ailments.
In severe cases, lead poisoning has been known to cause a series of lasting physical conditions such as hearing loss, slowed development, fertility struggles, and even nerve disorders. Unfortunately, these cases also worsen with an increase in lead concentration, and they can lead to permanent health issues later in life. Because this condition also results in high blood pressure and bone marrow problems, it can also make you more susceptible to developing other illnesses after the fact.
How to Protect Yourself
Among everything you need to know about lead paint is how to properly remove it in order to protect the health of yourself and your family. Paint isn’t the only household product that contains lead, but it poses the most risk with frequent contact. As such, be sure you follow these steps to ensure your safety.
Determine Whether Your Walls Have Lead Paint
Since lead paint isn’t used in current renovation projects, you may never even have to worry about exposure. However, if your home does end up having lead paint, you’ll want to be aware of it so that you can respond to any problems. Many homeowners or renters ask when their residences were built for this reason. If your own home was built prior to 1978, you’ll need to be conscious of the possibility of the presence of lead paint. Though landlords are legally required to tell their tenants if lead is present in the building, homeowners may need to get an official inspection to be able to tell for sure.
Regularly Check Your Paint for Damage
Fortunately, lead paint only poses the above risks if it’s been damaged. If your paint has remained intact, harmful lead particles don’t have the opportunity to be ingested. However, if you notice that your paint is beginning to peel, chip, chalk, or crack, you should take immediate action to remove yourself from the environment and to properly remove the product from your walls. When inspecting your walls, be sure to keep an eye out for excessive levels of dust in certain areas as well as any locations where the paint is thinning or becoming brittle. If you’re pregnant or have young children, it’s especially crucial to remain informed on the condition of your walls to ensure your safety and health.
Clean Areas Where Paint Dust May Collect
Dust can easily form in sections of a home where painted surfaces commonly rub together, such as doors, windows, and stairways. To ensure that your home is clean and that lead particles aren’t floating freely, take some time to wipe this dust away by wetting the area with a spray bottle to reduce any fly-away debris, making sure to wear the proper safety equipment when you do so. Keep up with your regular chores to rid your home of any additional dust and dirt that could harm you.
Wear Protection When Altering the Paint
Whether you’re repainting or performing construction work, altering the lead paint in your home can release harmful lead particles into the air. This makes them very easy for you to ingest in high amounts, putting you in danger. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t complete these projects at all. Wearing protection such as a facemask, gloves, and HAZMAT suit is key to maintaining your safety during these endeavors. If you must alter the paint in any way, it’s crucial that you wear these items to keep the lead from infiltrating your system—especially during winter interior painting projects. Ultimately, if you don’t want to take the chance of exposing yourself to lead, consider reaching out to a professional to remove the paint for you.
Hire Professionals to Remove it
The best way to protect yourself from damaged lead paint in your home is to have professionals take care of it for you. Trained and experienced enough to handle these situations, these individuals know the ins and outs of lead paint removal and how to best protect themselves while completing the job. Many house painters are even specially qualified to take care of your lead paint as part of their initial painting services.
For more information about lead paint and about how you can protect yourself and your loved ones, reach out to Bear Mountain Custom Painting. Our experienced, EPA-certified house painters in Atlanta, Georgia can further inform you of the risks as well as help you remove the problem. We aim to make your space just as safe as it is beautiful by assisting you in eliminating lead paint particles from your home.