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Is Lead Based Paint Really That Bad?

Updated on August 9, 2010

Introduction to Lead Based Paint

To answer the title and primary thesis of this article--yes, it is that bad. Lead based paint is still covering and is inside tens of millions of American homes, and the chances of your residence having a lead based paint or another fixed item in your home being coated in lead may be high. As stated by the EPA, most homes built before 1978 have lead based paint, lead in the surrounding soil, and lead present in household dust (you really, really don't want to inhale this heavy metal). Additionally, as stated by Prop 65, passed in California in 1986, lead may be found in:

  • Interior & Exterior Paint (obviously)
  • Windows
  • Roofing Materials
  • Construction Materials
  • Household Plastics & Metals

Is my Home Contaminated With Lead Based Paint?

It helps to know as a rule of thumb whether your home has reasonable risk of being contaminated with lead based paint so that you may take appropriate action. Below, if you answer "yes" to one or more of the questions, you may need to call a removal and/or appropriate specialist to handle your lead-based issue:

  • Was your house built before 1978?
  • Is the paint inside or outside of your house have that characteristic lead based paint peeling?
  • Are your windows over thirty years old?
  • Is your roofing material (whether it be tar, wood, or tile) over thirty years old?
  • Are there plastics or metal inside of your house (such as the skeleton of your in-home A/C or Heater) that is over thirty years old?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you know what I recommend. If you answered yes to several of these questions, then you surely know that you should take some sort of action.

Lead Based Paint Peeling

This is the characteristic peeling of lead based paint and peels when it ages.  This house was most likely built in the 30's or 40's.
This is the characteristic peeling of lead based paint and peels when it ages. This house was most likely built in the 30's or 40's.

Safe Removal of Lead Based Paint

The first step is to call a specialist and tell them of your issue. You can easily inquire, tell them about your house--and they will tell you if the risk of lead exposure is reasonable. Often, most companies will do an in-home inspection for free, or for a charge of up to $50. Removal of windows is inexpensive, A/C and heating units can become pricey, and removing lead based paint on the inside and/or outside of your house can be expensive as well. The choice is up to you of whether you feel lead based paint and other lead-based substances are of a reasonable risk to you and your family and/or friends.

If you inquire about removing the lead based paint, then the specialist will ask if you want to actually remove the paint, or just have it painted over with fresh paint. I recommend removing it, but that is where the high cost comes in. A team of experts will come to your house, put on chemical suites and literally chisel the paint off of the side of your house. It takes many man hours to do the job correctly, but it may be worth it, especially if the house is worth something to you. Painting over the lead based paint is appropriate, lessens risk to lead exposure, but does not eliminate it. Often new paint will peel when coming into contact with the lead based paint within years (paradoxical, I know), and could complicate matters.

Lead's Effects on Humans

Here is all you need to know about lead and its harm on humans:

  • Lead is a heavy metal, like mercury
  • Lead is a neuro-toxin and thus effects the brain
  • Lead is stored in your body's fat tissue
  • Lead is most harmful to infants, young children and those who's brains are still growing
  • Lead can lessen or stop brain growth
  • Lead can be inhaled, drank or consumed
  • Lead poisoning is often terminal or has long term effects on health


Thanks For Reading!

I appreciate your viewership and hope that this short guide on lead based paint helped. Remember, it's your home and your choice--do whatever you wish. I recommend removing lead based products and materials wherever you can, and when the risk is reasonable for lead exposure. Good luck, and beware of heavy metals in your household!

Also, I recommend that you read into Prop 65, why it was passed, and why it is currently the highest standard in anti-toxicicity legislation available. New substances and toxic materials are being added every year, and thus it is worth your time to be updated.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Lostc0z 

      6 years ago

      Just a comment but if "LEAD" is so horribly bad...why did my great grandparents, grandparents, and parents have healthier lives than our generation?(our=1979) Autism is skyrocketing along with other mental problems and birth defects...what gives?

    • profile image

      Ron Lovell 

      7 years ago

      Lead Based Paint is a real problem in Pre-1978 homes. We deal with it all the time. Keep up the good work on informing people about lead paint. Thanks

    • Direxmd profile imageAUTHOR

      Direxmd 

      9 years ago

      HA! You guys are ridiculous. Cris, you make me laugh everytime :)

    • Pest profile image

      Pest 

      9 years ago from A Couch, Lake Odessa, MI

      I guess those were not corn flakes momma was feeding me.

    • goldentoad profile image

      goldentoad 

      9 years ago from Free and running....

      Pest ate lead as a child before he turned to huffing

    • Pest profile image

      Pest 

      9 years ago from A Couch, Lake Odessa, MI

      Lead is a neurotoxin and thus effects the brain Lead is stored in your body's fat tissue Lead is most harmful to infants, young children and those who's brains are still growing Lead can lessen or stop brain growth Lead can be inhaled, drank or consumed

      Now I know what my problem is!  I think my trailer is made out of lead!

      Great Hub, very informative and helpful.

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 

      9 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      hey bender

      Nice hub here. Very informative and very well put. From chocolates to lead paint. Now what can't you write about? LOL thanks for sharing :D

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