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What's the deal with lead based paint, and why should anyone be concerned?

Maybe you've seen the warnings on paint sticks, or read an article someplace. "Use caution when sanding or disturbing lead based paint." Is it all a lot of hype? I have to argue as a contractor, that no, it really is not. While many people make a choice to simply ignore lead paint warnings, there could always be consequences to that decision. For instance, a friend did a large DIY reno a few years back, knocking walls down in an older home. As a direct result, his children have elevated blood lead levels.

When exposed to lead dust, children can develop behavior and learning problems (such as hyperactivity), slowed growth, hearing problems, and aggressive patterns of behavior. Stopping a child's exposure to lead from leaded paint, house dust, or any other source is the best way to prevent the harmful effects of lead. There are risks to adults as well.
Recently, the EPA put in place a rule that states anyone who is performing painting, renovation, or repairs in homes built pre-1978 must be certified to perform such work in a lead safe manner. If you hire anyone to work in your pre-1978 home, consider asking them for credentials to ensure that they will take the safety of you and your family into account. Likewise, anyone performing DIY projects is advised, but not required to, test for the presence of lead and take appropriate precautions for safety.
For more of this article: http://on.fb.me/X66qiK
EPA "Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home" pamphlet : http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadpdfe.pdf

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  • Z
    on Mar 24, 2013

    Great information Paul. I new about taking precautions when working in pre-1978 homes, but didn't realize there was a new rule about contractors needing to be certified. That's very wise.

  • Town and Country Living
    Town and Country Living Elburn, IL
    on Mar 24, 2013

    Good to know. My house is over 100 years old!

  • Jason Allison
    Jason Allison
    on Mar 25, 2013

    I for one didn't realize people ignored the warnings or took them lightly. We've known the dangers of lead and lead based paint, at least, since 1978. My father suffered from lead poising twice while he was a painter that worked for the state of Missouri. With as much exposure as everyone has to the television home shows and the hosts constantly reiterating the fact you should be cautious when dealing with paint, I would find it hard to believe that I could find someone who DOESN'T know about lead paint. And of course lead abatement contractors have to be licensed, that's at least nothing new in my state. My house, and my town for that matter, was built in 1944-48, with most of the original homes still exsisting. Ours is a Government town and we were lucky the builders did not use lead based paints. As it is though, I'm still dumbfounded that people still don't know about lead paint.

  • Hamtil Construction LLC
    Hamtil Construction LLC Saint Louis, MO
    on Mar 25, 2013

    Hi @Jason Allison - Great thoughts, and I appreciate your comments. It really is true, though, that even despite warnings and information that is out there, a great majority of folks will tear out a wall or floor without giving it much thought. From my perspective, I also see many, many contractors who ignore the responsibility to abide by the EPA rule when working in pre-1978 homes. This is a wholly separate rule than lead abatement or HUD regs. In part, choosing to ignore it is due to lack of enforcement by the EPA, but also because of the will of the particular business. To be frank, it adds additional cost to a project due to labor and materials, and it can become a sticking point for both contractors that do not want to over-price, and homeowners that do not want to over spend. Or, homeowners simply are not aware that the rule exists and that it should be a consideration.

  • Jason Allison
    Jason Allison
    on Mar 25, 2013

    And forgive me if I came across in a bad way. I understand there are homeowners don't give it much thought, but the fact there are contractors out there who fail to even mention this fact to homeowners is criminal. Those people give honest contractors a bad name. Home centers should be required to give a lead warning pamplet out to each person who purchases paint and also have their lead testing supplies displayed at the paint counter in full view. It's all about responsibility, if you sell paint, it should be your responsibility to also advise of the possibility of lead containing paints.

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