Posted on Jun 7th 2021
Before the 1980s, lead was added to paints to accelerate the drying process, maintain durability, and add moisture resistance. Though it was a cheap and effective way to manufacture paint, the long-term effects of lead were not considered. Due to serious health risks associated with its use, lead was banned from inclusion in household paints in the late 1970s.
While you will never find lead-based paints on the shelves of your local hardware stores today, lead paint is still present in many older homes throughout the United States. As it deteriorates over time, lead paint can pose serious health risks. But what does lead paint look like? How do you know if you have it in your home? What are the risks of DIY paint removal of lead-based paint? Keep reading to learn what this toxic paint looks like and how to deal with it once it is found.
What are the Health Risks of Lead Paint?
Lead-based paint was banned in the United States for a good reason. Lead is a toxic metal, and if you have it in your home, you must take steps to ensure you limit the health risks to you and your family. If the paint is in good condition, there is not much risk. However, when lead paint is deteriorating, accidental ingestion or inhalation is possible. When lead dust particles are inhaled, they can lead to serious and sometimes fatal health problems. Some health risks include high blood pressure, developmental problems in children, mood disorders, and fertility problems in both men and women.
Do You Have Lead Based Paint in Your Home?
Lead-based paint was so widely used before its ban that if your home was built before 1980, lead paint is likely on some of your walls. It is prevalent in older, historic houses-especially homes that haven’t been renovated.
Lead-based paint is found on commonly repainted areas, such as window frames, doors, and skirting boards, and it becomes a health and safety issue as it deteriorates. Though simple test kits can determine the presence of lead-based paint, false-negative results are possible.
Paint with lead tends to “alligator” the older it gets. Alligatoring paint refers to the process of paint degradation. It happens when the paint starts to crack and wrinkle, creating a pattern that resembles the reptilian’s scale. While all types of paint will deteriorate with age, alligatoring is a sign that homeowners should look out for if they suspect lead.
Paint is easier to inhale when it chips or peels off walls. As mentioned above, lead ingestion can cause serious and severe health issues. If you have an older home and the paint on your walls is deteriorating in an alligator pattern, you must have the paint removed by a professional.
Safely Removing Lead Paint
Inspecting a home for lead requires care and precision. Testing should neither generate nor stir up lead dust. As lead paint is hazardous when disturbed. To limit potential hazards, inspections should be completed by certified professionals.
Once you’ve confirmed that you have lead paint in your home, it is important to know how to safely remove it. Stay clear from DIY articles that tell you to handle the job alone. DIY projects are dangerous, especially if you are not a professional. Lead removal is a high-risk project, both for the person removing it and anyone else in the vicinity. You cannot remove the dangers of lead paint by simply painting over it with modern paint. The paint must first be removed by a professional.
There are many steps and precautions to take while performing this risky job. High-efficiency filters should also be used to filter any lead dust out of the air during and after working. There is also the potential for spreading lead-contaminated dust. The proper disposal of protective gear prevents extra contamination. Safeguard yourself against the risks associated with the job by hiring professionals. Our team of home painters specializes in the safe removal of lead-based paint. We take care of prep, cleanup and have all the proper protective equipment required to handle the job.