Unknown to many, several homes contain varying quantities of lead, which present serious health problems. Even though the use of lead-based paints for home construction was banned decades ago, some old homes that haven’t been renovated still have it. Symptoms of lead poisoning might present quickly, take several months or years before manifesting.
As such, homeowners should learn how to identify and eliminate various sources of lead in their structures.
How to Identify Presence of Lead in Your Home
Suspect presence of lead sources in your home if the home ticks any of the following conditions;
- Old home
The construction industry has evolved as experts and health agencies discover more about the health effects of various construction materials. Therefore, when purchasing your next home, apart from the basic considerations, you should also worry about the presence of lead and asbestos.
While the use of lead paints was outlawed decades ago, old homes constructed before 1978 might still have these contaminants. Before being banned, home contractors preferred using lead due to its durability and high resistance to moisture. That said, you should suspect the presence of lead in your paint or plumbing materials if your home was built before 1978.
- Symptoms of Lead Exposure
Lead can be consumed by mouth or inhaled. As mentioned, it is a common metal that most people ingest in small quantities unknowingly. Lead exposure can lead to serious health problems, with symptoms manifesting quickly or after some time. Once in the body, lead is absorbed in the bloodstream, settling in bones. Common symptoms of lead exposure include;
- Frequent nausea and headache
- Tingling in hands and feet
- Hearing loss
Note that the absence of these common signs doesn’t mean that your property is free from lead. Without early intervention, these health problems might be permanent.
- “Alligatoring” Paints
Paints on different surfaces often give unique appearances over time. However, lead-based paints tend to crack, giving an alligator appearance as it gets older. Alligatoring in paints describes the process where oil-based paint applied to a surface degrades with time, leaving a surface that looks like alligator scales. Note that this isn’t a confirmatory sign that your paint has lead. However, if you had initially suspected that your paint has lead, alligatoring is a sign that you should have it tested.
What to Do if You Suspect Your Home has Lead
Do the following if you suspect the presence of lead in your home;
Inspecting your home to confirm your doubts is the first step. While lead-based paints might be found on the interior and exterior walls, lead might originate from various sources. Therefore, inspection should be done by a certified inspector or risk assessor. The inspection process involves swab tests on surfaces and other advanced techniques.
Lead Risk Assessment
If you are worried about the lead in your home, arrange for lead risk assessment alongside inspection. Similarly, this should be done by a qualified assessor who can thoroughly analyze the property. Note that while inspection involves tests on the surfaces, the assessment provides conclusive information about lead presence from various areas, right from the structure, water, and soil. Therefore, unlike inspection, assessments take longer to be completed.
Eliminating Lead Sources in Your Home
If lead tests in your property turn positive, your priority should be eliminating lead sources. With the help of lead removal service experts, you can opt for one of the following methods;
- Paint Removal
Paint removal from lead-containing surfaces is a fair option for most homeowners. Unfortunately, scrubbing paint without generating dangerous amounts of lead dust is a skill that most average homeowners lack. Therefore, consider working with certified experts skilled in wet sanding and the use of paint strippers.
Encapsulation is another common technique that closely replicates repainting your home. However, unlike typical repainting, encapsulation involves the use of a special coat that seals lead paints completely, preventing them from flaking. While regular paints can slow the deterioration of lead-based paints, they aren’t as effective as encapsulants.
- Surface Replacement
You might also consider replacing the entire surface to get rid of lead sources. Unlike other options, surface replacements have no health risks but quite costly depending on the size of the surface to be replaced. Similarly, the intervention of certified professionals is important.
Since the dangers of lead occur from direct contact, some homeowners prefer covering the source using permanent barriers. Preventing human contact reduces wear, limits the amounts of chips and dust falling on the floor. Some people may cover lead surfaces with metal, wood or build a layer of drywall to cover lead sources from interior walls.
Lead is a naturally occurring metal present in the soil, dust, air, and many other surfaces. As mentioned, excessive lead exposure causes lead poisoning and serious health problems, which can be prevented. That said, take advantage of the tips mentioned above to identify and eliminate lead sources in your home. Ensure that you consult lead removal service experts to avoid being exposed to this harmful chemical.