Posted on February 28, 2013
Lead paint: a phrase that has given fright to modern-day parents and has even caused schools to be temporarily shut down due to its presence. Lacquer and paints which contain lead are known to be dangerous substances, especially to children. The EPA lists among the effects: permanent brain or nervous system damage, hearing problems, slowed growth, and anemia. In more serious cases: seizures, coma, and even death. It is also a danger to pregnant women. It can cause miscarriage, reduced growth, and premature birth.
Because it has proven to be so harmful, lead has been banned from household paints on a federal level since 1978; some states banned it prior to that. Before its toxicity was known, it was widely used, and actually preferred by builders and homeowners because it was durable and washable. Millions of homes still contain lead paint, though it may be hidden under layers of new color. According to the EPA 87% of homes built before 1940, 69% of homes built between 1940 and 1959, and 24% of homes built between 1960 and 1977 still have it embedded in their walls.
As long as those homes are still standing, there will be many people living with lead paint. The only thing we all can arm ourselves with is awareness. Knowledge is power, after all. The EPA provides guidelines for the families living in older homes and the contractors who take on projects to renovate them.
Homeowners, or prospective buyers, can have the house checked through a paint inspection or risk assessment. A paint inspection tests the lead content on various surfaces while a risk assessment sheds light on how to deal with hazards such as peeling paint or lead dust. Both need to be carried out by a certified professional. The rest is a matter of upkeep: regularly checking for chips and peels, and cleaning to control any dust.
Home renovators need to take particular caution because they are essentially stirring a hornet’s nest while they work. Each firm must be certified to handle lead paint, all employees must be trained, and all must follow guidelines to working safely and minimizing dust. Proper cleanup of the jobsite is also essential to avoiding any risks.
Lead most certainly is a dangerous substance, and it is particularly insidious when it has been used in building our most intimate areas—our homes. But, there is no beast we cannot battle once we understand its true nature. With help from organizations like the EPA, taking the proper precautions is the best that we can do.
We provide our furniture products free of lead and other harmful chemicals. Call us at 310-253-9994 to ask about our products and how they are built.