Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lead Paint Safety in the Home

Federal law passed on the 22 of April, 2010, is there to protect people from being contaminated by lead paint. The law requires contractors and home owners, who work on homes built before 1978, to risk assess the work and include activities that disturb more than six square feet of existing paint.
This law also applies to schools and child care facilities. There have been set protocols for contractors to follow, when faced with a program including the above hazard. Removal of lead-based paint is highly hazardous to the persons doing the abstraction, and persons in close proximity. If lead poisoning goes untreated it can lead to brain damage and  in extreme cases death. Young children, especially pre-schoolers, are more susceptible to lead poisoning.

Houses pre-dating 1978 where often painted with lead based paint and house owners must disclose information regarding known lead-based paint to potential buyers or those seeking to lease the property.

If lead is present in paint, it must be dealt with by professionals, as paint chips or dust from the paint are considered highly hazardous to health. Lead that has been in paint and allowed to deteriorate over time can also contaminate the soil under and around a property, which can be played in by children and walked into the home and should also be tested to determine what action necessary to be taken.

High lead paint hazardous areas in the home

Lead base paint is at its most hazardous when chipped, cracked, peeling, chalking and worn from high traffic areas where an area has high contact rate and therefore, is vulnerable to damage. Particular attention should be given to areas where it is likely that children can access, as they often can chew and peel away painted areas including:
  • Window frames and window sills.
  • Doors frames, architraves and doors.
  • Stair banisters, risers, steps and skirting.
  • Porches, decking and fences.
There are home test kits to see what areas are hazardous but it is not recommended as a sole reliant source when thinking about renovation work. A test should be done by a qualified and certified professional. If the presence of lead-based paints in the home is suspected there are steps that can be taken immediately to alleviate this hazard to household members. Clean up any paint flakes and chips and seal them in a bag or container for disposal. Curtains, sofas and other furniture should be covered up before the clean-up process.

Use a mop with a general surface cleaner to wash down the surfaces, including floors, window sills, frames and door panels, all those surfaces that are suspected of being contaminated, on a weekly basis. The cleaning tools, like the mop head, should be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed out after use. A mob is a preferred in the absence of a high powered commercial vacuum cleaner, as they will not kick up dust particles causing them to become airborne and contaminate other areas of the home.

It would be prudent to wear washable or disposable gloves for the cleaning operation. Children's hands should always be washed before they eat food and go to sleep. Children should be stopped from chewing all those areas suspected of being contaminated. Toys or anything the child comes into contact with should be cleaned regularly.

Shoes need to be removed before entering the home and also cleaned if soiled. Children who eat nutritious diets can absorb less lead. These are all temporary actions whilst the removal of the hazardous paint is being programmed.

Painting over lead-based paints is not a solution as it can still be chipped and damaged, causing flakes that can be consumed. Ideally all hazardous paint should be removed by a professional certified "abatement" contractor. The contractor can also advise if certain section can be sealed or covered over with specialist products. The National lead information centre (NLIC) has lists of approved contractors that cover various areas and also have in place financial assistance packages.

Lead Poisoning Effects

Lead poising symptoms vary and can be non-specific symptoms like loss of appetite, sleeping deficiency, stomach pains and constipation or in some people no physical symptoms occur
Children that do not complain of any symptoms but may have poisoning can suffer brain damage over a certain time period. If a child shows difficulty in walking or weakness following the suspicion of exposure to lead-based paint poisoning; medical attention involving a blood test, to check the levels of lead, should be sort immediately.

Pets can also show symptoms of  poisoning from lead-based paint and usually before humans, this is another way of detecting the problem, all be it an unwelcome one.

If lead-based paint is suspected in a home and there is no information on the history of the house. Rather than leaving things to chance, especially if the paintwork is chipped and chalking. Certified professionals should be called in to test it. First they will do a visual test to establish the condition and the location of the paint, then they can then use a (XRF) a portable x-ray fluorescence machine. Finally samples are taken to a lab for further testing.

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