Lead is a highly toxic metal capable of causing a range of serious health problems in children, adults, and pets alike. It’s been steadily removed from commercial products such as children’s toys, makeup, and wine, but one place in which it’s likely to linger is the home. Most homes built before 1940 are presumed to have traces of the dangerous material.
If you suspect your home was built with lead materials—either in the pipework or paint job—you should have it removed right away. Lead paint is particularly hazardous; it’s the most common cause of lead poisoning. Here’s why lead paint in your home is dangerous and what you can do to mitigate or eliminate its effects.
The Dangers of Lead-Based Paint
Pregnant women and the elderly have an increased risk of experiencing lead-related health issues. Children, especially those who are younger, are also especially sensitive to lead. Putting lead-contaminated objects such as paint chips into their mouths or playing in lead-contaminated soil are some of the ways they can expose themselves to the material. Pets are considered high-risk for similar reasons—they’re prone to eating things they shouldn’t and playing low to the ground in dangerous areas.
The main reason, therefore, why lead paint in your home is dangerous is its side effects, some of which are long-lasting or potentially fatal. Lead that’s absorbed into the body can inflict damage on vital organs such as the brain, kidneys, nerves, and blood. It can cause mental and behavioral problems, some of which are difficult to detect. Learning disabilities, seizures, joint pain, irritability, and more are all common symptoms to watch out for. In serious circumstances, lead poisoning can lead to death.
What Should I Do?
The U.S. officially banned lead-based paint in 1978. If your home was built before then, it’s recommended that you have your paint tested. If your paint is lead-based paint and shows noticeable signs of deterioration, it’s in your best interest to have it removed.
For lead paint in relatively good condition, there are ways to mitigate—though not eliminate—your risk of contracting lead poisoning. Controlling lead-contaminated dust is paramount:
- Frequently wipe down flat surfaces such as tables, shelves, and windowsills. Use disposable wipes or paper towels, and throw them out immediately after use.
- Mop any smooth floors, and vacuum your carpets and upholstery. HEPA filter vacuums and high-efficiency collection bags are recommended.
- If paint chips fall to the ground, carefully pick them up and discard them.
- To avoid tracking dust throughout the home, remove your shoes at the door.
- If you plan to renovate your home, be cautious about creating further dust. Hiring trained professionals who know how to deal with lead-based paint can help you avoid the dangers.
Lead-based paint lowers a home’s value and its chances of selling. Due to the additional risk, contractors and renovation companies are more unlikely to take on projects in lead-contaminated homes. For these reasons—along with the serious health risk—removal of lead paint is highly recommended. Plan to do so at your earliest convenience.
If you’re looking for safe, professional lead paint removal in Portland, Oregon, JK Paint & Contacting is the way to go. Call us today for a free quote, or contact us with any inquiries.