Test or Remove Toxic Lead
Although lead is a toxic material, it is not always a hazard. If lead-based paint is under layers of lead-free paint, then there may not be a health problem. Only when lead paint is rubbed, scratched or otherwise disturbed by water leaks or during a renovation project does harmful lead dust enter the air you breathe.
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The older the home, the more likely the walls are covered with lead-based paint. Nine out of 10 buildings built before 1940 are sure to have lead paint. Eight out of 10 pre-1960 buildings and six out of 10 pre-1978 buildings are likely to have lead paint as well. It was originally added to paint to make it more durable and easier to spread. Fortunately, if undisturbed, lead-based paint is not dangerous. Lead cannot be absorbed through the skin. Problems arise when homeowners decide to sand off the paint as part of a renovation project and breathe in the lead particles. As such, if you are planning to renovate or remodel a home that was built during these years, you may want to hire a certified lead paint inspector to survey your home.
Lead paint inspectors typically use an X-ray fluorescence analyzer. It detects paint and other surfaces containing lead levels above an acceptable threshold. You will receive a lead paint inspection report that shows all areas that are covered with lead-based paint. However, the report will not tell you about the condition of the paint or whether there is lead-contaminated dust or soil. Nor will the report prescribe any measures to control lead hazards. The average estimated cost of a typical lead paint inspection of a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home ranges from $350 to $450.
If the home inspection reveals lead-based paint, then you may need to hire a lead risk assessor to determine whether the paint poses an actual health risk. Risk assessors visually examine the home for paint deterioration and analyze its lead levels by sending paint chips to a testing laboratory or using an X-ray fluorescence analyzer. They may also send dust and soil samples for laboratory analysis. A risk assessment report will identify any lead hazards and provide options for controlling them. The average estimated cost of a typical risk assessment of a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home ranges from $450 to $500.
Even if you are not renovating your home and your only goal is selling or renting it, you may still need specific lead paint information for marketing purposes. Many buyers and renters who have small children are naturally concerned about their exposure to lead. Some are strongly opposed to living in a home that has lead-based paint, even if it is beneath several layers of lead-free paint. A lead paint inspection report that shows the absence of lead in a home could be a major selling point.
Other Solutions for Lead-Based Paint
Besides hiring the pros, you can cover the walls with paneling, or paint over the walls with special lead-encapsulating paint. Additionally, especially if the paint is in good condition, just leave it undisturbed. Use damp cloths to dust, and vacuum carefully around the baseboards and windows and doors. Doors, which often rub against the jambs when closed or opened, can generate fine amounts of lead-paint dust. The same is true of double-hung windows when opened and closed.
Some other removal approaches include wire brushing or wet hand scraping using non-flammable solvent or abrasive compounds like liquid paint remover on small areas like windowsills and doors. You can also do wet hand sanding or power sanding with HEPA filters; no dry hand sanding. You can also have experienced workers do heat stripping, using a low temperature heat gun and hand scraping.
Last updated on Feb 6, 2017
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