Thanks to awareness campaigns going back more than three decades, most people know that lead paint is dangerous.
What many don’t know is exactly why. And even fewer know what they ought to do should it turn out they’re living in a home with lead paint on walls or trim. If you think that your house or apartment couldn’t possibly have lead paint, you might be surprised.
It’s more common than you think! Lead paint wasn’t banned in the US until 1978 and it was widely used before then, so if you live in a home constructed before then the chances that lead is lurking somewhere in your home are pretty good.
Updated 2013 regulations that outline work and clean up procedures for contractors may be keeping professionals and their clients safer, but instances of lead paint poisoning often involve kids under 6, DIYers, and handymen working without training or certifications.
If you suspect there’s lead paint in your home or you’ve tested for lead and confirmed it, here are some steps you can take to keep yourself and your family safe:
- Remodeling? Make sure you’re working with an EPA Lead-Safe Certified Renovator. They’ll have the tools and know-how to work safely around lead paint, which adults often ingest inadvertently in the form of paint dust during unsafe renovations. Find an EPA Lead-Safe Certified Renovator at http://www.leadfreekids.org.
- Exposed lead paint can be covered with heavy-duty materials like tile or sheetrock. Painting over lead paint is only a temporary fix – if new paint peels, it will expose the lead all over again.
- Families with children in homes with known lead paint should have kids tested for lead exposure and poisoning. Lead paint can taste sweet so babies and young children will sometimes eat it on purpose, but even a few lead paint dust particles consumed accidentally can harm a child.
The real deal is this: When handled safely, lead paint poses hardly any health risks. Be smart and protect yourself and your family.