Lead-based paint a real concern in homes, apartments
In an age of instant Internet access to almost any subject and the bombardment of public-service announcements, magazine and newspaper articles, many still do not heed the warnings concerning the improper care of lead-based paint in our homes. If your house or apartment was built or renovated before 1978, then you have lead-based paint.
Lead was also used as a drying agent in varnishes on floors, doors and woodwork. What I’m constantly hearing is that several layers of oil-based or latex paint had been applied over the years, covering the lead-based paint.
The hazard with lead-based paint is that when the layers begin to peel or chip or there is renovation work inside the home, the original paint is now exposed. Lead-based paint not only affects children but overexposure can also cause serious health problems in adults. You can be exposed to the hazards of lead-based paint whether you are sanding, scraping or using a heat gun or chemical products to strip the paint.
When working with lead-based paint, it is best to hire a professional to identify the problem areas and to direct you on the proper care and maintenance of the home to protect you from potential poisoning. If the renovation is to be done by a contractor, a new law requires the contractor to have a lead-based-paint-certified technician direct the work (www.epa.gov/lead/).
Lead-sampling kits (although not always accurate) are readily available and inexpensive at most major home and hardware stores or online at www.prolabinc.com/products.asp?kit=leadinpaint.
Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Write to him with home-improvement questions at d.Barnett@insightbb.com.