All You Need to Know About Lead in Paint
Recent studies have shown that lead in paint is the most common way for both children and adults to be afflicted with lead poisoning. While lead-based paint is no longer commercially available in the United States, it nonetheless poses a problem to people living in homes built during the 1960s or earlier.
It was during the 1940s that lead-based paint enjoyed immense commercial popularity. Back then, around two-thirds of homes built were painted over with lead-based paint. Lead served as a drying agent as well as a pigment for alkyd paints popular back then. The trend of using paint with a lead base persisted through the 1960s.
However, studies and discoveries regarding lead paint poisoning led the United States government to regulate the use of lead in paint. People living in old homes that have not been renovated or repainted nonetheless remain susceptible.
How Lead Paint Poisoning Occurs
It is the nature of lead-based paint to chip off and produce lead dust. When lead dust enters the body’s system, lead paint poisoning occurs. The lead dust is released into the air and can be breathed in.
The lead dust can also settle on the surface of food and thus ingested during food intake. Hand-to-mouth contact can also cause lead paint poisoning, especially among children who are in the habit of putting their hands or any other object they could get a-hold of into the mouth.
The Effects of Lead Paint Poisoning
Lead paint poisoning, just like lead poisoning through drinking water, is rarely fatal but it can nonetheless lead to long-term and irrevocable damage. Children are more in danger to the long-term effects of lead paint poisoning.
Mild exposure to lead would yield symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain, chest pain, headaches and insomnia. As exposure to the dust created by lead-based paint continues, adults may develop anemia and nerve damage.
Among children, lead paint poisoning can lead to retardation of mental development. They will exhibit reduced attention span, poor performance in school and lowered levels of IQ.
Testing the Home for Lead in Paint
Homeowners should immediately test their homes for lead in paint if the home has been built in the 1960s or earlier and not a lot of renovation works have been made since then. Lead testing kits are readily available in the market, but homeowners can also send samples to accredited laboratories.
If the paint in one’s home has been proven positive for lead, the only recourse to prevent lead paint poisoning is to have the old paint removed and replaced. However, a homeowner should not undertake this task on his own unless he is amply trained for it. He should instead engage professional contractors specializing in removing lead-based paint.
The area in the home where the lead-based paint is to be removed should be quarantined. Children, pregnant or nursing women, and adults with high blood pressure should not be allowed near the work area. Utensils used for eating and cooking should be removed from the area as well, and no eating or drinking should be done in the work area.
It is the responsibility of every homeowner to check if his home is safe from lead paint poisoning. He should have it checked, whether through the services of a laboratory or through a lead testing kit.