Many folks have heard that lead-based paint can be a problem in homes, schools, etc, particularly where small children are present.
In order to better protect our clients, particularly those for whom we are doing home transformations, yesterday I took the full-day course to become a lead-based paint ‘Certified Renovator’. I learned a ton so thought I’d share some with you!
Lead-based paint is any paint that contains lead equal to or in excess of 1.0 milligram per square centimeter or more than 0.5 percent by weight.
Prior to January 1, 1978 when the Consumer Products Safety Commission banned the sale of lead-based paint, lead was added to paint for better color and durability. It caused paint to really ‘pop’ and, unfortunately for us now, it also caused it to last a long time.
Turns out, lead is a pretty hazardous substance that can cause permanent damage to those poisoned by it. In children it can cause damage to the brain and central nervous system, decreased intelligence, reading and learning difficulties, behavioral problems, and hyperactivity. In adults it can cause high blood pressure, loss of sex drive or capability, physical fatigue, and damage to a fetus in pregnant women. And these are just some of the issues lead poisoning can cause!
Lead-based paint in homes is quite widespread. It is estimated that 86% of pre-1940 homes contain lead-based paint on at least one surface, 69% of homes built from 1940 to 1959, and 24% of homes built from 1960-1978.
The main problem with lead-based paint is the dust produced when it is disturbed. You can’t see it or sweep it and, once released, it is easily tracked around. Because of this, home renovations pose a particular problem. Improperly contained, lead-paint dust can cause health issues for the occupants of the home being remodeled, as well as for the construction workers who can unknowingly bring lead-contaminated dust from the job site into their own homes.
In order to reduce these hazards, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program Final Rule (RRP Rule). The RRP Rule established specific practices for handling lead-based paint and requires renovators and their firms to be certified via accredited training programs if they are working in pre-1978 homes and will be disturbing more than six square feet of lead-based paint on the interior of a home or 20 square feet per wall on the exterior.
Because the RRP rule doesn’t apply to a homeowner doing their own repairs, many people could expose their children and themselves to lead-paint in the process.
In future articles, I’ll share more about what I learned in order to help you reduce your family’s exposure to lead.