Lead was banned from being used in household paints starting in 1978. This means there’s a lot of houses and commercial spaces that still have lead painted surfaces. If the paint is in good condition (not cracking or peeling) then leaving it undisturbed is just fine. But if you have small children in your house then old walls, doors, windows, and sills can be dangerous.
Lead testing kits can be purchased from a home improvement or safety supply stores. Products such as 3M LeadCheck Swabs can be used as an instant test on most surfaces. Follow the manufacturers instructions on how and where to perform the test. If your paint comes back positive for lead then find a Lead-Safe Certified Firm to work with in removing the paint from your home. To find out more and for a list of certified firms:
For homeowners that prefer to do the work themselves it is imperative that you preserve the safety of your family or children in your care. If you are living in a pre-1978 home and planning to do painting or repairs, please read a copy of EPA’s Renovate Right (PDF) leadhazard information pamphlet (10 pages, 7.0MB).
Abatement means any measure or set of measures designed to permanently eliminate lead-based paint hazards. Abatement includes, but is not limited to:
- The removal of lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust, the permanent enclosure or encapsulation of lead-based paint, the replacement of lead-painted surfaces or fixtures, and the removal or covering of lead-contaminated soil.
- All preparation, cleanup, disposal, and post-abatement clearance testing activities associated with such measures.
From the 1900’s until the 1940’s master painters preferred to use lead based paint for their work for many reasons. In the early 1900’s hundreds of millions of people around the world died due to infectious disease. It was recommended that people wash their walls to help avoid the diseases. Paint, as opposed to wallpaper, allowed for a smooth surface to wash with soapy water. Homeowners also didn’t paint their own homes; they relied on master painters who preferred lead pigments due to its durability. Lead paint adhered better and didn’t crack and peel like other paints when exposed to the weather. It stayed on better and was impermeable to water. For these reasons, in the 30’s and 40’s it was recommended to use lead based paint. Although known since Roman times that eating lead is poisonous to humans, it wasn’t discovered that humans could be eating lead based paint until the 1930’s when children diagnosed with “pica” (having an abnormal appetite for nonfood substances) were discovered to have chewed the lead paint off their toys, cribs and woodwork. This began the efforts to remove lead from paint which was finally fully banned in 1978.
Crystal Soda Blast is licensed and trained in lead paint removal. CSB has trained technicians to meet EPA and OSHA requirements for lead paint removal. Our blasters and laborers have attended 16 hours of classroom training by a 3rdparty followed by hours of field training lead by management. Our project manager and management staff have attended this class, as well as 16 additional classroom hours to properly learn how to manage and document lead abatement projects. We also are Lead Certified by the Department of Ecology.
Any effort to remove or encapsulate lead paint or to replace components covered with lead paint can create lead dust. Lead dust is dangerous to workers and occupants because it is easy to ingest and inhale. Dust generation and deposition was a major problem with earlier efforts to abate flame burning and dry scraping with no containment of cleanup. From a health and safety perspective, it is important to protect workers from the harmful effect of lead dust during abatement, and to ensure that occupants are exposed to lowered amounts of lead dust after they move back into an abated apartment.
Post-abatement cleanup of lead dust can be difficult and must be done with care. Even with careful containment, it may be quite difficult to clean up after abatement methods that generate large amounts of dust. The difficulty of providing protection for workers and tenants when such dust-generation methods are used must, however, be balanced against the fact that these methods are often less costly and more easily performed with unskilled labor.
Lead Paint is a Health Hazard
Human beings are exposed to lead from numerous sources, such as paint pigments, automobile and industrial emissions, surface and ground water and some forms of solder. While adults may suffer various ailments due to excessive lead in their blood, the groups most at risk from exposure to lead are fetuses, infants, and children under seven. Since the fetus is at risk from high blood lead levels in the mother, pregnant women and women of childbearing age also must be aware of the hazards of high blood lead levels. Excessive blood levels can seriously damage a child’s brain and central nervous system. Lead poisoning in children can cause attention span deficits, impaired hearing, reading and learning disabilities, delayed cognitive development, reduced IQ scores, mental retardation, seizures, convulsions, coma, and even death. In adults, high blood-lead levels may increase blood pressure and have other effects. The current Centers for Disease Control (CDC) criterion blood-lead level for children is 25 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (ug/d!); however, recent research has indicated that blood-lead levels as low as 10 to 15 micrograms per deciliter can cause adverse health effects in fetuses and children under 7 years of age. Blood lead levels in excess of 30 micrograms per deciliter are of concern on abatement works and other adults especially women of child-bearing age.