It finally happened in fall 2008. The Environmental Protection Agency reduced the lead emissions standard from 1.5 micrograms per cubic meter down to only .15. This was the first major piece of lead legislation to pass since 1978, when the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of leaded paint.
It’s a simple fact that society is slowly but surely starting to better understand the threat of lead. It is a toxic substance that you don’t want to have anywhere in your home. Unfortunately, if you live in an old home, it’s very likely that you are surrounded by a lot more lead than is healthy.
Lead In Old Homes
Homes built before the legislation of 1978 are apt to contain lead paint. Here’s the thing — the paint isn’t likely just to be on the walls. The lead-based paint is likely to show up on wood and plastic trim, on radiators, on ironwork, on doors, on cupboards, etc. The lead could therefore be everywhere. And the quantity of lead can be as high as 20 milligrams per square centimeter.
What makes lead-based paint such a problem is the harm it can cause to both children and adults. Even low levels of lead exposure in little kids can cause retarded development, learning problems and behavior issues. It can also lead to miscarriages in women, as well as irritability, damage to the kidneys and more in kids and adults alike. And believe it or not, but lead poisoning is still a huge problem in the states.
According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 300,000 children suffer from unsafe blood-lead levels. While this number is slowly dropping, it’s still shocking nonetheless. It’s why you must be especially on the ‘lookout’ for lead if you have children living with you.
However, the unfortunate truth is that lead cannot be seen, tasted or smelled. Of all you know, lead is everything in your home — in its pipes, in its drinking water, in its soil and in its paint. And since lead doesn’t naturally break down, it can literally remain in your home for decades upon decades.
It doesn’t help either that about 3/4ths of all homes built prior to the 1970s contain lead-based paint.
Testing For Lead In Old Homes
If your home was built before 1978, then you ought to test it for lead. The first step entails just looking out for paint chips and dust. The second one would be to purchase a home lead test kit. These are very simplistic devices that just tell you whether lead is present or not. It won’t let you know the levels of lead and whether or not they pose a hazard.
It should be noted that there’s a difference being lead-based paint and a lead-paint hazard. Lead-based paint that’s still in optimal condition won’t necessarily be hazardous. However, it will eventually become hazarder, which is why taking care of it early on is the smart thing to do.
The best way to go about testing for lead is to either send paint samples to an authorized lab or hire a professional inspector. The decision lies with you, but you should consider a professional if you live with kids, or if your home is really, really old.
As a reminder, here are a few of the many symptoms associated with lead poisoning:
- Exhaustion and loss of energy
- Reduced attention span
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Stomach aches
If you have encountered any of the above symptoms, then stop waiting and get your home tested right away.