Older paint contains lead. Over the years, governments have regulated the phasing out of lead in paint entirely. If your house was built before 1960, the paint used during construction would have contained a great deal of lead. Reduction started soon after, with complete elimination by the 1980s. If your house was built after 1978, the paint likely has no lead in it.
So what’s wrong with lead based paint? Lead is unhealthy if ingested. And it is surprisingly easy to ingest paint. It has a way of finding its way into our diets, particularly into the diets of toddlers. For instance, painted door jambs and window sashes create paint dust during use. For toddlers who spend a great deal of time on their hands and knees, and who ‘test’ the world through their mouths, this dust presents a serious health hazard if it contains lead.
Dealing with Lead Based Paint
Keep it clean: Lead dust is the problem. Wet mop floors weekly and wipe surfaces to remove the lead dust. Some suggest using special detergents and discarding the mop after use. Information on detergents and cleaning protocols are readily available on the internet.
Encapsulate: The paint on the walls and ceilings are fairly safe because they are not wear surfaces. You can encapsulate these areas using modern paint applied over top.
Replace: Wear surfaces can be replaced rather than encapsulated. For example, you can remove and replace door jams with new wood and refinish.
Remove: Where encapsulation or wood replacement is not practical, you can remove the paint using chemical strippers. This task is time consuming and expensive and should only be done by an expert lead abatement contractor since proper containment is essential.
Used with the Permission of:
Ed Mercer | Home Inspector
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