Does Your Home Have Lead Problems?

Lead paint can cause problems for family members. Here are some ways you can check for lead and safely manage it.

One of the most prolific toxins that can contaminate and harm young children or adults is lead-based house paint. Whether used to cover indoor walls or outside surfaces, paint that contains lead may be hazardous to your family's health, and you may need to have your home evaluated to protect your loved ones and pets.

Houses built before 1980 pose the biggest risk. It has been estimated that more than eighty percent of these homes contain some level of lead paint, which was the most common kind in use at that time. Fortunately, the use of lead-based paint was banned in the United States, so only older homes have it on the premises at this point. Since many families with young children tend to buy older, more affordable homes, you need to find out if your residence contains lead.

If your home has been around since before 1980, plan to get the paint checked for the presence of lead. Even if it does have lead, however, it can be harmful to remove such paint from house walls because the dust from long-time wear and usage is a major factor in contamination. Not only do people breathe in lead fumes from the walls, but they can absorb the dust from crumbling plaster walls that is so minute, most people don't notice it.

The first thing to do is to Inspect your home to see if there are small dust piles on the floor near painted walls. If so, these need to be removed, but don't try doing it yourself, as you may spread the dust further and become contaminated. Instead, contact a lead remediation company to ask their recommendations or to have their staff come to your home for a professional inspection and cleanup. Even if it costs more than you expected, the investment is worthwhile from a safety standpoint.

Also, check the areas below painted siding or wallboards on the exterior of your home. If lead paint was used, you should assume there are lead particles on the nearby ground, so keep your kids and pets away from those areas. Part of the problem with kids and pets is they inadvertently touch the ground where lead dust has collected, then stick their fingers unknowingly into their mouths. To prevent children's and pets' access, plant shrubs, lay mulch, or put in flowers to keep them away.

Sometimes the safest thing to do is leave wall paint containing lead intact instead of trying to remove it. A well maintained home may not be in a high level of danger from lead dust. But check with your remediation expert in making decisions about your home's lead risks, and never try to remove the lead paint from the walls yourself. Special equipment, including a mask with a ventilator, will be needed.

Although this problem may seem quite frightening, lead-based paint is fairly manageable once you know it may be there, and take steps to control it. Just be sure to contact a lead paint professional to make the right decisions.

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