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The Truth About Lead Paint

The Truth About Lead Paint

Guest Post by Wade Myer – Wade grew up under the watchful eye his father, a contractor, who taught him the tools of the trade. Even though he can swing a hammer with the best of them, he’s always been drawn to the written word where he can frame sentences rather than walls.  Currently he writes on behalf of Steiner Homes LTD. who builds Crown Point custom homes.

Old homes are a treasure. They are, in a sense, a living history. As concrete connections to the past, there is a tendency to romanticize the home. It becomes a sacred place that cannot be modified without good reason or an equally as historic alternative. There are some aspects of old homes that should be changed to fit with the more modern times. Lead paints, popularly used in old homes should be traded for safer, modern paints.

Lead paint was banned in 1978. Before that time, many homes in the United States used Lead Based paint to decorate, so if you are in possession of an historic home, there is a high chance it has lead based paint.

Why is Lead Based Paint a Problem?

Lead paint can enter the body through food, water, and air. Once in the body, it can cause comas and death at a high level of exposure, and problems with brain development, blood cells, and kidneys in a lower concentration and exposure period.

If you have children, it is imperative that you take the threat of lead based paint seriously. Children eat anything that they can get into their mouth, so the likelihood that they will eat the lead based paint is relatively high. Children’s growing bodies make them more susceptible to lead poisoning, and prolonged exposure can have negative impacts on physical and mental development.

Due to the severe risks of lead poisoning, it is important to discover if your home currently has lead paint and if your family’s current lead exposure is high. In order to protect your family, high lead exposure should be followed by immediate remediation. You can find DIY lead test kits here.

What If I Have Lead Based Paint In My Home, But No Lead Exposure?

The danger of lead paint can lie dormant for years before becoming a problem.

If the lead paint is still in pristine condition, you have two options:

  1. Hold off until the lead paint does become a problem.
  2. Begin remediation plans immediately to deal with the lead before it becomes a major concern.

It isn’t until the house begins to get worn, that lead shavings pollute the home. Both are certainly valid choices, but to me, the first option is too much like a child’s belief that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you. An ignored problem will not dissipate. And this ignored problem could result in quick slop job renovations that ignore historical accuracy due to the need to be able to live in the home safely.

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14 thoughts on “The Truth About Lead Paint

  1. It’s nice that you pointed out how lead paint could enter the body through food, water, and air. I was watching a documentary the other day and I heard about the history of the use of lead paint. According to what I saw, it seems there are also landlord lead paint safety certificates now due to the danger of lead paint.

  2. Lead paint with technology today can now be sealed and treated for the same cost as regular paint. Treated by way of lowering the bioavailability. This is huge! What it means is if ingested, has less tendency to absorb into the bloodstream. Treat rather than simply paint!


  3. Hello! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group?
    There’s a lot oof folks that I think would really appreciate your content.
    Please let me know. Cheers

    1. Catherine, let’s not be alarmist here and cause undue stress on others. Lead poisoning is a serious enough issue already.
      Michelle, If you have any question about whether you or a little one are being exposed to lead from paint or any other source you can easily get your blood lead levels checked by your physician and I recommend doing so.

  4. There are also other primers out there that you can use to actually treat the lead and make it far less hazardous for your family. A simple primer or paint will NOT effectively seal the lead. Ecobond LBP is a paint and primer that can be used to seal and treat the lead in lead based paint. It can be used a primer before you paint, but can also be used as a tintable topcoat. This product also seals up to 99% of lead dust, which is very important when you have children that could potentially be exposed. It’s very simple to use and is conveniently available at Home Depot Online for an affordable price.

  5. with regards to the lead based paint. What are you supposed to do it you DO HAVE IT? We recently purchased a 1950’s home, that we confirmed yesterday DOES have lead based paint. We primed over it. But what else could we do. This was after we’ve torn down some walls, and inhaled a LOT of dust, even with a mask. We had concerns because now we have a little one.

    1. If your lead paint is not chipping or peeling and you have primed and painted over it you shouldn’t have any issues. If you plan to renovate make sure you use an EPA RRP certified company. They are trained on how to protect you and your family from lead paint issues.
      However if you want to have the lead paint completely removed you can call a “lead remediation” firm and they can completely remove all traces of lead paint from your house.

      1. Scott, I adamantly disagree about your advice to not worry about lead paint if it is intact and you cover it with a few layers of new paint! Friction points like doors, windows, and floors wear out the top layers of paint eventually and create invisible lead dust.
        Get it all the way off safely. The UL-listed Speedheater Infrared Paint Remover will do it. Read more about lead-safe work practices at http://www.epa.gov/lead.

        1. Catherine, if your suggestion is to strip every painted surface in a house that tests positive for lead using the Speedheater you may not have as much experience with infrared heat as I do. The cost would be astronomical (a 1300 SF house would cost approximately $20,000)! That’s how much my company would charge to do it.
          Plus, while infrared heat is good (though slow) at removing paint the complete removal of lead paint hazards can only be accomplished by an EPA licensed lead abatement company. Not a homeowner with your tool.

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