What is Lead-Based Paint?
EPA, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) define lead-based paint as any paint having a lead content greater than or equal to 0.5% by weight or 1.0 milligrams per square centimeter depending on analysis technique. Lead-containing paint is any paint that contains lead, but with less than the above-listed quantities.
Why was lead used in paint?
Lead paint has a long history of use, dating all the way back to the ancient Greeks, who even then were aware of both the benefits and dangers of its use. In the United States, lead was added to paint for a variety of reasons. The lead additive had many qualities that improved the performance and application of paint. It not only increased drying times of applied paint but was known to increase its application coverage, appearance, durability, and resist moisture and related deterioration. Lead paint is still used today in many parts of the world, and even in the US for some applications such as street marking paint.
How can you be exposed to lead paint?
Since its removal from common usage in the United States, there are fewer ways for exposure to lead paint to occur. The most common exposure occurs in children and infants by way of ingesting lead paint. Most often poor conditions of the paint result in flaking and chipping which is then eaten off the wall or floor and even through skin contact. Additionally, foreign manufacturers of toys and furniture may still use lead paint which children may put in their mouths. Any home built before 1978 is at risk for lead paint. The paint may still be on the interior or exterior walls, ceilings, trim, windows, shutters, etc. as the topcoat or it may be under many newer layers of paint. Despite being covered by newer paint, the danger is the same when renovations take place, or if the paint is in a poor and deteriorated condition.
Health effects of lead exposure. Lead paint is known to be hazardous. Medieval documents wrote of the dangers of working with lead, and 1800’s Germany had laws protecting women and children from working with lead. Even in the early 1900s, Sherwin Williams was reporting on the dangers of lead paint, specifically to those working with lead paint and occupants of homes and buildings where the paint had been used. Children and women were at even greater risk due to exposure and attempts to ban lead in paint began in 1921.
Lead paint is known to cause a multitude of issues and symptoms in infants, children, and adults. Initial symptoms can be difficult to detect, as a buildup of lead in the body often does not show signs until dangerous levels have been accumulated. Although most adults are able to tolerate minimal lead exposure better, there is no safe level of lead exposure for children and it has been linked to long-term harm. Children and infants will usually show signs and symptoms more quickly which may include:
Learning difficulties and lower IQ
Loss of appetite
Sluggishness and fatigue
Hearing loss and developmental delay
Infants exposed before birth can be born with low birth weight, be premature and develop and grow more slowly. Adults are at lesser risk than children but it is still dangerous and other signs may arise as the toxicity increases in their bodies such as:
High blood pressure
Joint and muscle pain
Difficulties with memory or concentration
Reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm
Miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature birth in pregnant women
Why do I need to test?
Lead paint in homes, toys and furniture, and other items was banned by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1977. And in 2010 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required all contractors, renovators, and painters working in homes built before 1978 disturbing paint to be certified. Any buildings built prior to 1978 may very well have lead paint, either on the top layer or under many other, newer layers of paint since the initial construction. Testing is the only way to know if you have lead paint so that proper safety measures are taken, and that only trained and certified people work on the dangerous materials using lead-safe work practices. EPA created the Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule (RRP Rule) to lower the risk of lead contamination to both workers and occupants of buildings during renovation activities. Any child-occupied facilities, especially daycares and schools, are required to use EPA certified workers for these activities.
We Can Help!
Testing with BuildSafe Environmental prior to any renovation projects is a great way to ensure your job will be done safely and according to all rules and regulations regarding hazardous materials. You can also have testing done if you are simply concerned about the paint in your home and if lead is present. All components and colors of a system are easily sampled and lab analyzed for quality results. We perform inspections on residences and businesses all throughout Colorado including but not limited to; Denver, Aurora, Parker, Ft Collins, Castle Rock, Peyton, Greeley, Sterling, Vail, Breckenridge, Lafayette, etc. Call or email us today with any questions or to schedule an inspection. 720-598-0601 or firstname.lastname@example.org