I remember moving into an old home signing a lead paint disclosure form with the promise that I would not ingest the paint on the walls. I replied with “I’ll try to contain myself” but curiosity hit me and I started to wonder what the harm was in paint before 1978.
Here’s what I found:
Lead is a toxic metal that can cause serious health problems if it’s ingested or if dust containing lead is inhaled. It is one of the main health and environmental hazards associated with paint. Up until 1977, when The United States’ Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned lead paint from being used for residential and public buildings, lead was a common component in exterior and interior paints. If the surface is broken, it can be of harm to families and more specifically, pregnant women and children under the age of 6 who are vulnerable to the poison. This doesn’t mean it’s time to pack up and move to a new home just yet. However, this does inform your family that tampering with such surface may cause dust and if work is being done to the area, the best thing to do is to wait for the work area to clear.
Now, to cover the common questions:
I live in a home that was built before 1978, am I doomed?
No, but you must be cautious of any small and large repairs or additions that may shed the surface into the air. Tidy and clean thoroughly making sure dust doesn’t accumulate after drilling and other repairs. If a room is being re-modeled, it’s best if you seek temporary living quarters that will situate you and your family while such manual labor is being rendered.
What about items in the house? Will they be exposed to lead during repair?
Yes. It’s important to remove all furniture, rugs, drapes, food, toys, dishes (you name it) before lead compromises your belongings.
I’ve got a buddy working on my walls, what should I tell them to do?
Wear gloves and cover…well, everything. It’s important that your worker has a respirator approved by NIOSH (the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) or MSHA (the Mine Safety and Health Administration). Approved respirators will have an approval number on them, ( i.e., TC-21C-xxx). In order to prevent harm from lead, workers should not eat, drink or smoke on the job – this is critical. After the work is done, the only sure way to remove the harmful poison from their clothes is with a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filtered vacuum cleaner. It’s unsafe to keep otherwise.
To scrub or not to scrub?
Workers and anyone exposed to the lead surface or remnants should shower as soon as they can so they don’t spread lead dust to others and their homes. D-Lead Hand Soap has been a go-to for years. D-Lead® Deluxe Whole Body Wash and Shampoo Deluxe Whole Body Wash and Shampoo is a very mild skin and hair cleaner. It removes heavy metal dusts, contaminants, dirt from your skin and hair.