Unknown to many, multiple homes contain varying amounts of lead that cause serious health problems. Although the use of lead-based paint in house construction was banned decades ago, some old houses that have not been renovated still have them. Symptoms of lead poisoning can appear quickly and take a few months or years to manifest.
Therefore, homeowners should learn to identify and eliminate various sources of lead in their structures.
How to identify the presence of lead in your home
Suspected sources of lead in your home if the home meets any of the following conditions;
The construction industry has evolved as experts and health officials learn more about the health effects of various building materials. Hence, in addition to the basic considerations, you should also consider the presence of lead and asbestos when purchasing your next home.
While the use of lead paint was banned decades ago, old homes built before 1978 could still have these contaminants. Before the ban, contractors preferred to use lead because of its durability and high moisture resistance. That said, if your home was built before 1978, you should suspect the presence of lead in your paint or plumbing materials.
- Symptoms of lead exposure
Lead can be taken orally or inhaled. As mentioned earlier, it is a common metal that most people unknowingly ingest in small amounts. Lead exposure can cause serious health problems, with symptoms manifesting quickly or over time. In the body, lead is absorbed into the bloodstream and settles in the bones. Common symptoms of lead exposure are:
- Frequent nausea and headache
- Tingling in hands and feet
- Hearing loss
Note that the absence of these general signs does not mean that your property is lead free. Without early intervention, these health problems could be permanent.
- "Alligator" colors
Colors on different surfaces often give a unique look over time. However, lead-based paints tend to crack and give an alligator look as they age. Alligatorization in paint describes the process by which oil-based paint applied to a surface deteriorates over time, leaving a surface that looks like alligator scales. Note that this is not a confirmatory sign that your paint contains lead. However, if you originally suspected your paint might contain lead, alligatorization is a sign that you should have it tested.
What to do if you suspect your home has lead?
If you suspect there may be lead in your home, do the following.
The first step is to inspect your home to confirm your doubts. While lead-containing paints can be found on the interior and exterior walls, lead can come from a variety of sources. Therefore, the inspection should be carried out by a certified inspector or risk assessor. The inspection process includes swab tests on surfaces and other advanced techniques.
Lead Risk Assessment
If you are concerned about the lead in your home, get a lead risk assessment in addition to the inspection. Likewise, this should be done by a qualified appraiser who can thoroughly analyze the property. Note that tests are carried out on the surfaces during the inspection, the assessment providing conclusive information about the presence of lead from different areas, directly from the structure, water and soil. Therefore, unlike the inspection, it takes longer for the assessments to be completed.
Eliminate sources of lead in your home
If the lead tests in your property are positive, your priority should be eliminating sources of lead. With the help of experts in lead removal services, you can choose one of the following methods:
Removing paint from leaded surfaces is a fair option for most homeowners. Unfortunately, scrubbing paint without creating dangerous amounts of lead dust is a skill that most average homeowners lack. So consider working with certified experts who are familiar with wet sanding and the use of paint strippers.
Encapsulation is another common technique that is used to accurately replicate the repainting of your home. Unlike typical repainting, however, encapsulation uses a special layer that completely seals lead paints and prevents peeling. While regular paints can slow the deterioration of lead-based paints, they are not as effective as encapsulants.
You can also swap the entire surface to remove sources of lead. In contrast to other options, surface replacement products are not hazardous to health, but are quite expensive depending on the size of the surface to be replaced. The intervention of certified specialists is also important.
Since the dangers of lead arise from direct contact, some homeowners prefer to cover the source with permanent barriers. By preventing human contact, it reduces wear and tear and limits the amount of chips and dust that can fall on the floor. Some people can cover lead surfaces with metal, wood, or build a layer of drywall to cover sources of lead from interior walls.
Lead is a naturally occurring metal that is found in soil, dust, air, and many other surfaces. As mentioned earlier, excessive lead exposure causes lead poisoning and serious health problems that can be prevented. However, use the tips above to help identify and eliminate sources of lead in your home. Make sure to consult lead removal experts to avoid exposure to this harmful chemical.