Everything to Know About the Dangers of Lead Paint, and How to Clean it Up - Alliance
June 8, 2021

Everything to Know About the Dangers of Lead Paint, and How to Clean it Up

Written by Alliance Environmental

Formally referred to as lead abatement, there are specific techniques and processes specifically designed for the complete and permanent elimination of all the hazards associated with lead-based paint. That’s why it’s best left to a licensed professional.

Whether it’s a home renovation or a commercial venture, there’s often great potential in older buildings. What’s not so charming about them is when they come with lead-based paint. In fact, running into lead-based paint and attempting to remove it can be a serious and downright dangerous endeavor. Formally referred to as lead abatement, there are specific techniques and processes designed for the complete and permanent elimination of all the hazards associated with lead-based paint. It’s important to note that these clean-up and elimination processes are highly specialized and require technicians with training. In addition to this, EPA regulations require any pre-1978 home or building lead abatement projects be performed by certified professionals using very specific practices.

Lead: why to avoid it all costs

It’s long been proven with medical and scientific research that lead absorption, even in the smallest amounts, is linked to serious health issues. The most common exposure occurs through ingestion, such as being exposed to chipping, flaking, crushed, or sanded lead based paint residues. Most commonly seen negative effects, again, even in the smallest exposure amounts, inhibit intellectual and behavior development in young children and babies. A person of any age exposed to high levels of lead can experience lead poisoning, anemia, and damage to the brain and nervous system functions. While everyone is at risk when surrounded by lead-based paint, infants, children, and pregnant women are especially vulnerable. 

Because we do not currently know an actual safe threshold for lead exposure, the safest way to stay healthy is to first, be sure our surroundings do not contain lead through a proper inspection, and second, have every trace of it safely removed through professional lead abatement services. 

Knowledge is power: the proper inspection

The first clue that a building may contain lead based paint is the year it was built. The real concern is any home or building constructed prior to 1960. However, between then and 1990 there may also have been smaller amounts of lead in both the interior and exterior paint. After 1992, all consumer interior paint sold in the U.S. was produced essentially lead-free. Since 2010, any paint made up with more than 0.009 percent lead content must state this on the label, as well as warn that it is unsafe for children or pregnant women to be exposed to. In the case lead based paint is suspected in a home or building, there are home lead test kits to check painted surfaces. But really, the safest measure is to schedule a thorough inspection with a licensed contractor. These professionals can make informed decisions around best management practices when it comes to lead based paint. As they inspect the site using the proper x-ray equipment to detect lead on any surface or within the home or building, it’s the best way to peace of mind for the owner. 

Rigorous removal

Some officials suggest that leaving lead based paint alone can be safer than removing it. In this case it is imperative that the paint is not chipping in any way or accessible to children; otherwise, the risk is simply not worth it. Any disturbance increases the chances for exposure and/or ingestion. In some cases, if the surface is in good condition, it may be covered with non-lead paint, paneling, or vinyl wallpaper. Once the owner determines they will go forward and remove the lead based paint, it’s best left to a lead abatement professional to eliminate the many associated risks. Unless performed methodically, these jobs can be extremely overwhelming and quickly grow out of control. The many surfaces to be treated go well beyond the walls. There are ceilings, doors, window trim, stairs, railings, and numerous other surfaces to keep on the radar. Leaving this level of labor to be performed to a professional ensures the job gets done right, on time, and eases physical and mental stress for the building owner.  

Protection is paramount

Professional lead abatement service companies ensure the ultimate in protection for everyone involved where lead is present. For one, their technicians arrive equipped with all the safety protocol required by the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Should the building or homeowner take on the lead abatement project on their own, they require all PPE items including clothing, goggles, gloves, and a respirator to protect against the fumes and dust that accompany lead based paint removal.
    
Lead abatement service providers also protect the area being treated. Remember, throughout this process dangerous dust and paint chips can fill the air. The area, including all vents, must be properly sealed. All possible objects, including rugs, window coverings, and furniture should be removed while anything unmovable, as well as the entrance, should be protected using plastic. When the technician removes outdoor lead, they bring drop sheets to catch all debris and scrapings. 

The safest, cleanest lead abatement procedure

Professional lead abatement service providers can be trusted to have up-to-date training on the safest and most effective lead removal techniques. They’ve been trained in methods that reduce the spread of dust and fumes, including innovative chemical stripping procedures. These technicians are also educated in not only properly sealing vents and HVAC systems, they have the expertise to ensure these systems are left sanitized after the project is complete. The entire area will have been properly cleaned, including proper washing down and vacuuming with a professional grade HEPA vacuum cleaner, and all soiled materials properly disposed of. The home or building owner can then return to a safe, lead-free, and clean environment for all those who will use the space. 

When you suspect lead, based paint may an issue in any of your buildings, save the headache and reach out the best lead abatement specialists in the southwest. At Alliance Environmental, we can answer any questions around the possible presence of lead based paint and provide the best in lead abatement solutions. Click here to learn more.

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