Lead Safety and Home Remodelling
By Courtni Wisenbaker-Scheel. Photos reprinted with permission from Modernize.com
It’s safe to say that most people now understand that lead causes serious health problems for both humans and the environment. However, not everyone knows just how much toxic lead can be lurking within their ceilings and walls in the form of dust. It’s not until a construction project begins and the dust starts flying that the danger really grows. At Home Improvement Leads, we want you to understand the importance of lead safety when you are remodeling your home.
What homes are likely to have toxic lead?
With the passage of Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 and the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, it became mandatory in the US for companies to report what chemicals and mixtures were in their products as well as restricting the use of those substances known to be toxic. For generations, lead was a common additive in construction materials because it was cheap and easy to use. It’s safe to say that if your home was built prior to 1978, then there is almost certainly lead somewhere in your home. However, age alone is not the only indicator. Lead dust can settle on and in your home and also be tracked inside from soil contaminated by industrial pollution, coal- and wood-burning, older car exhaust, etc.
What needs to happen before renovations begin?
In general, lead dust poses little threat to your family’s health when it is left undisturbed. However, once mallets start swinging and saws start cutting, that isn’t going to be the case. If your home was built before 1978, save yourself the worry and hire a certified lead-safe renovation expert to perform the job from the start. Otherwise, consider having a lead dust sampling technician come to your home to test what lead levels are in your ceiling void dust and wall cavity dust. Then you will know what precautions need to be taken.
How should lead dust be removed?
One of the first steps that needs to be taken is to have the area completely sealed off from the rest of the house with plastic sheeting. This includes restricting entry and exit paths for anyone working in the construction zone so that no dust accidentally enters the home from someone’s clothes. Especially before dismantling a ceiling or even breaking into a ceiling to install lights, fans, sunroof/skylights, etc, have a certified professional come remove roof tiles or sheets and then the ceiling void dust using an approved HEPA filter vacuum. We don’t recommend you do this removal yourself, because training and experience are required to take the appropriate steps to ensure safety protocols are followed. This includes using the proper NIOSH-certified respirator that is fitted with HEPA filters, washing all protective clothing separately, and thoroughly cleaning exposed skin before entering the rest of the home. Also, it should be noted that all pets, children, pregnant women, elderly individuals, or people with a compromised immune system should vacate the home while these renovations take place, just to further ensure their safety.
Renovations are potentially dangerous in their own right, so don’t add to the risks by ignoring lingering lead in your home. Follow the correct protocol and you’ll have a beautiful and safe new home in no time.
www.HomeImprovementLeads.com – brings homeowners together with high-quality qualified remodeling contractors. Home Improvement Leads specialize in window, siding, HVAC, roofing, and solar leads, and offer the best in home improvement contractor leads.