Lead was used in many different applications in residential and commercial construction up until the late 1970’s. Lead-based paint was the most commonly used source for lead. Lead was also found in plumbing pipes and solder, gasoline ad-ditives, and electrical fittings and conduits. Children are considered high risk for lead poisoning because they are still developing and lead exposure affects the central nervous system. Lead exposure in children may result in stunted growth and perma-nent brain damage. Adults are also at risk. Symptoms can include headaches, joint pain, abdominal pain, miscarriage, and premature birth in pregnant women.
If Lead is an issue on your jobsite, a Lead-certified professional must be called to remove the hazard before any other work begins. The only way to know for sure if your paint contains lead is to have it tested by a professional. If it does contain lead this does not mean that it has to be removed. However, any work that would disturb the paint or create lead dust would require a professional. Wearing a dust mask will not protect you from lead dust. A respirator with a specific HEPA filter for lead is required to protect yourself from airborne lead hazards.
Certified Lead contractors are required when renovations are being performed that would disturb lead based paint. These certifications are issued by the EPA. EPA Certified Lead Contractors have specialized equipment and methods for safely removing materials coated with lead-based paint. These certified contractors should provide a copy of their lead training certificate as well as provide a safe and secure jobsite for everyone at the jobsite.
Sometimes working safely might seem like it can cost more money and take more time. However, doing it the right way, the legal way, and holding the long term safety of these workers should be the primary concern for everybody involved. So when you work with lead, do it safely and find a certified contractor who is trained to mitigate the hazards on the jobsite. Can anyone contribute a time that lead safety was involved in your work? Can anyone recall a near miss or accident that could’ve been prevented?