The brightness that was obtained by adding lead to paints means that it was used extensively in art projects, in toy manufacturing, and in homes all over North America, including in Southern Ontario. It was only in the 1980s that we began to understand the health hazards of using lead as an additive in paint. Unfortunately, by then lead paint was ubiquitous. It is present in virtually every home in the Greater Toronto Area built before 1980.
Fortunately, lead paint is at its most dangerous when it is disturbed. That is to say that it only really becomes a problem when you are hoping to sand or remove finishes that were coated in paint mixed with lead. Then lead can become a very big problem if young children live in the home. Lead exposure can be dangerous for us all, but it is especially hazardous for kids.
Exposure to Lead Paint in Childhood
Lead has been classified as a serious neurotoxin. It is most damaging in children because their immature circulatory systems are not able to filter away the harmful effects of lead as well as that of an adult’s. Exposure to lead has been has been linked to developmental delays in children, and there is some evidence that lead exposure can contribute to distractibility and hyperactivity. The good news is that the level of lead detected in the blood of children has decreased significantly in the last 30 years, but children are still being exposed to lead in the home. Because the effects of lead exposure are cumulative and cannot be reversed, it is important to minimize that exposure whenever possible.
If you suspect the presence of lead in your home and believe your children have been exposed, your first call should be to your child’s doctor. They can evaluate your child’s symptoms and order further examination, like blood testing, if it is deemed necessary. Once the medical evaluation is underway, the next step is to contact a professional lead removal company.
Lead Removal from the Home
Lead is a hazardous substance, and like most toxic materials there is no level of exposure that is considered safe. If you do have lead paint or lead pipes in your house, professional lead removal, or lead abatement, is required. Traditional paint removal techniques like stripping or dry sanding are not safe to use on lead paint. In fact, these methods are downright dangerous as they create a cloud of lead that can be inhaled.
Once lead has been identified, it needs to be safely removed and disposed of in appropriate treatment facilities. When you start to understand exactly what is involved in ridding your home of this dangerous material, it quickly becomes clear that this is much more than a weekend DIY project.
To safely address the significant safety hazard of lead in the home, especially where children live and play, it is important to engage the lead removal services of a professional. As they say on TV, do NOT try this at home!
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net