Lead Paint: Do You Have It in Your Home?

Lead poisoning is a serious health issue for both children and adults. It can affect anyone, even affect a fetus in the womb, if the mother inhales or ingests lead from paint.
And if you think you can’t come into contact with lead paint, think again. If you live in an older home, your walls, doors, trim work, and handrails may be covered with lead paint. And even if the original paint has been painted over many times, you may still be at risk for lead poisoning. Old paint that chips off can pose a problem, as can dust from lead paint that is sanded down.A Short History of Lead in the Home

Lead is a highly poisonous material, and lead paint is not the only culprit. Before the dangers of lead were fully recognized, however, many commonly used materials like paint and gasoline were made with lead. Lead is everywhere and, unfortunately, you can’t see it or smell it. Lead can be found in:
House paint made or used prior to 1978
Plumbing materials like faucets and pipes in homes

Dirt and soil

Utensils, plates, and other serving ware made from pewter

Some batteries

Paint and art sets for children

Items like fishing sinkers and bullets

Furniture and toys that were painted prior to 1976

Some painted toys and household items that were made in countries other than the United States

Small figurines

Health Problems Caused by Lead Paint

If lead paint chips are ingested or dust from sanding off old layers of paint is inhaled or swallowed, lead poisoning may result. Lead poisoning can cause these symptoms and complications:
Lack of energy
Frequent headaches

Insomnia

Constipation

Abdominal pain (usually from ingesting a large amount of lead)

Moodiness and irritability

Problems paying attention

Behavioral issues

Hearing difficulties

Damage to kidneys

Lower IQ

Delayed physical and mental development

Affected senses

Adults may experience:

Pain in joints and muscles
Concentration and memory deficits

High blood pressure levels

Problems with nerves

Reproductive issues

Know Your Lead Paint Risk

Every home, before it can be bought or sold, must have a lead paint disclosure that states what the owners know about the history of the home and the presence of lead-based paint. You can check the disclosure on your home to see if there is any known history of lead-based paint use in the house.Getting the Lead Paint Out
Paint samples from your home can be tested to determine if they contains lead. Though there are do-it-yourself home tests available, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends lab tests as the most reliable method. If you are concerned that you or your children have been exposed to lead, ask your doctor about blood tests to check for signs.
If tests confirm that there is lead paint in your home, the best thing to do is get rid of it … safely. Here are some ways to address the situation:
Remove lead paint. Professionals can strip or sand away lead paint from your walls, and take care of dust and other lead contaminants that may be left behind. For a very small area, you can do it yourself, but use paint thinner or other wet methods to avoid dust.
Cover up lead paint. Don’t just paint over it — you need to seal in lead paint and its dust and flakes with a special sealer.

Replace trim containing lead paint. If you have a door, windowsill, or other trim pieces that have been painted with lead paint, remove them carefully to avoid creating dust and replace them with lead-free materials.

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