No doubt you know that lead paint in older homes can be toxic, especially for kids. But what exactly are the risks, and what do you do if you suspect your home has lead in it? Here are answers to some of the most common questions we hear, as well as possible solutions to the lead-related challenges you may face as a Hendersonville or Asheville homeowner.
Q: How big a problem is lead paint?
Lead from paint, including lead-contaminated dust, is the leading cause of lead poisoning. Lead paint is in millions of homes, usually under layers of newer paint.
See also: Lead Poisoning Home Checklist [EPA]
Q: What are the health effects of lead exposure?
When lead is inhaled or eaten, it can cause serious damage to the body's nervous system, reproductive system, and blood-forming systems, to name just a few risks. In children, it can cause permanent brain and nerve damage and can lead to lower IQ, hearing problems, and learning and behavioral difficulties.
Q: How do I know if I have lead paint in my home?
If your home was built prior to 1978, it probably has lead in it. If it was built before 1940, the risk is even higher. There is no way to tell if you have lead paint just by looking. The only way to know for sure is to test.
Q: How do I test for lead paint?
The best way to test your Hendersonville or Asheville home for lead-containing paint is to hire a certified renovator and/or dust-sampling technician. (In North Carolina, firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in pre-1978 homes, child care facilities, and schools, must be certified by the EPA(and agreement states) and use certified renovators who are trained by an approved training provider to follow lead-safe work practice.)
Your certified contractor will likely cut off samples of your paint that include all the layers and send them to a lab for evaluation. If lead-containing paint flakes or dust have collected, your contractor may send those for testing, too.
You can also use an instant lead test kit, like 3M™ LeadCheck™ Swabs. Just be sure the kit you choose is recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency.
See also: Evaluating and Eliminating Lead-Based Paint Hazards [Environmental Protection Agency]
Q: Can I test my kids for lead exposure?
If you suspect that your kids have ingested lead through paint chips or have breathed in lead-containing dust, you should talk to your doctor about a blood lead test, which will tell if your child has been exposed in the last month. Most clinics will do this for free or at a reduced cost.
Q: How do I remove lead paint?
In most cases, homeowners can just leave lead paint where it is if it is in good condition and they can commit to maintaining and containing it with periodic repainting. However, in some cases, this is not possible. If you are planning a major renovation that will involve cutting lead-painted surfaces and creating dust, or if the lead-based paint in your home is flaking off, you may want to seek the services of a certified abatement firm, which has the expertise and equipment to safely remove lead paint.
Q: How much does lead paint abatement cost in the Hendersonville/Asheville NC area?
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that professional removal of lead-based paint costs between $8 and $15 per square foot, and the average project costs about $10,000.