Lead Paint Danger in Home Renovation

lead paint

I have to warn you – this is going to be a dull post…like “watching paint dry” dull. But if you live in a home built prior to 1978 or know someone else who does, I encourage you to read this or pass it along. Particularly if renovation of any kind is going to happen in that home, because choosing the correct contractor becomes all the more critical.

Basic Paint Primer –  First The Simple Facts:

Latex paint, which is sometimes referred to as acrylic paint, is water based. It is not considered a hazardous waste because it is no longer manufactured with mercury  (we are not discussing offgassing, the evaporation of volatile chemicals in non-metallic materials at normal atmospheric pressure or VOC’s,volatile organic compounds, in this post). Lead-based paint, on the other hand contains, as its name implies, lead.

Lead can be used a few ways in paint as part of creating a rich looking pigment or added to the paint in order to speed drying, increase durability or help to resist the moisture that can cause corrosion. Lead is also the main health and environmental hazard associated with paint. While it can still be found in the world, regulations prohibit its use in the US and the UK. In 1978, lead paint was banned from household use by the US.

Renovating a Home Built Prior to 1978

To protect against the health risks associated with lead base paint, the EPA did issue a Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule. It requires that contractors performing any services that may disturb lead-based paint be certified renovators. These renovators must have received EPA-approved training so they can follow lead-safe work practices.

On all homes that were built prior to 1978, you can have testing done to verify if lead-based paint is in any area where work will be performed. If lead-based paint is found, special protection and containment of the work area must be done in order to protect the workers and homeowners from the lead particles that can become airborne due to the work. If you’ve ever lived through a renovation of any kind, you know how quickly airborne debris becomes an issue. You do not want lead in it.

Please note that not all renovators and contractors are certified in these practices so do please be careful to ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS.

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s website is a great source for more information. Click here to access the site.