Why is Lead based Paint Problematic During Renovations?
Why is Lead Based Paint Problematic?
Traditional renovation work can create significant dust-lead hazards if lead based paint is disturbed. Any activity involving surface preparation, such as hand-scraping, power sanding, the use of heat guns above 1100O Fahrenheit and open flame burning, can generate lead dust.
While more complicated tasks such as removing building components and demolishing walls also can create a lot of dust, even just a tiny amount of lead can be extremely harmful. Leaded-dust particles are often so small that you cannot see them, yet you can breathe or swallow them. These smaller, inhaled or swallowed dust particles are more easily absorbed by the body than larger particles, and can therefore more easily cause poisoning. Through normal hand-to-mouth activities, children may swallow or inhale dust on their hands, toys, food, or other objects. Likewise, for adults, normal daily activities like eating, drinking, smoking or putting anything into your mouth without washing up first, allows the risk of swallowing the leaded dust present. This just highlights the significant importance in thoughtful and complete care when it comes to renovation dust and cleanup.
A little dust goes a long way. Even a floor that looks clean can have leaded dust on it. Only a laboratory test can tell you for sure if an area is contaminated with lead. Normal cleaning methods will not pick up all the dust in a work area. Sweeping is not enough. You need to use water, detergent and a HEPA vacuum to clean up dust effectively. Once dust is released, it is easily tracked around, inside and outside the work area. And, an exterior painting job can contaminate the inside of a home as the dust, chips and leaded soil are tracked inside.
The leaded dust generated by traditional renovation work does not discriminate and anyone not taking proper lead-safe precautions invites the risk. It can poison children, pregnant women, yourself and other workers and even pets. Practical changes in work practices can minimize and contain dust. The use of lead-safe work practices makes the job safer and reduces your liability to exposure.
What the EPA and HUD regulations require of Certified Firms and Certified Renovators.
Worried you or someone you know might have lead poisoning? See our previous blog, The Banning of Lead-Based Paint: When and Why? for possible signs and symptoms.