If you live in an older home, built before 1960, the paint on the walls may be lead-based. Before you decide whether or not to remove the paint, there are several factors you need to consider.
Disturbing the paint’s finish can expose your family to lead, and the risks of lead poisoning are serious. It can cause anemia and brain and nervous system damage. The danger is even greater for children because they are still growing and absorb lead more easily than adults. Even small exposure can be dangerous for babies, and there is no known safe level of exposure.
Sometimes, leaving the paint on is sometimes safer than removing it, as long as the paint is not chipped and is not within reach of children. The safest thing to do if you leave lead-based paint on the walls is to cover the area with wallpaper or with panelling.
If you decide to remove the paint, make sure children and pregnant women are not in the work area.
The best option is to hire a professional to do the job. He or she will contain the area properly by putting plastic over doors, vents and windows. This ensures that your house is not contaminated with dust from lead. They will remove all furnishings from the work area, and if anything can’t be removed, they will cover it completely with a plastic sheet.
Make sure you set up the work area properly, with a fan blowing out an open window. Workers must wear proper safety gear to so they are not exposed to the chemical remover or lead particles, which includes goggles, gloves and a breathing mask. They will also take frequent breaks and should not eat or drink in the work area.
At the end of each work day, put the paint scrapings in a sealed container labelled “hazardous waste.” Also, wipe down the work area thoroughly with a damp cloth, then throw the cloth away.
By hiring a professional, you can ensure that these precautions are all taken so your family has a safe, lead-free home.