Dealing With Lead Paint


Addressing the issue of lead paint abatement in aging rental property certainly seems to be an important point for some people, and depending on who you talk to, not for others.

Dealing with this type of removal can be very expensive. So for some property owners, not dealing with it at all is their preferred modus operandi.

The problem of lead paint in older structures built before 1978, specifically those built from the 1950's and older, provide residential and rental property owners a potentially hazardous situation, that at some time, will probably require some form of remediation.

What Exactly Is Lead Poisoning?

In older buildings, much of the exterior, as well as the interior woodwork (doors and windows) and walls, were painted with lead-based paint. Banned in 1978, this type of paint is a major source of lead poisoning among children, and has also been shown to affect adults as well.

According to an article, written by K.R. Tremblay Jr., posted on the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension website, and appropriately entitled,

"Lead-Based Paint In Homes" , the following information regarding the effects of lead poisoning is presented:

"Lead-based paint is a major source of lead poisoning for children and can affect adults. Even low levels of lead in children can result in retarded mental and physical development, learning disorders, behavior problems, and reduced attention span. Lead can cause abnormal fetal development in pregnant women. Severe lead poisoning in children and adults can cause irritability, poor muscle coordination and damage to the kidneys, nerves and brain. Lead poisoning also may increase blood pressure in adults."

Your Options

In most instances with old painted surfaces people tend to paint over with newer latex or oil paint. It is, however, a temporary solution.

If walls, and woodwork such as baseboards and trimwork appear to be in sound condition, you might go the route of painting over the old lead paint. But, do not sand, scrape, or do anything to release dust into the air, as you can breathe in the dust particles. It is probably safer, overall, to simply leave intact layers of paint undisturbed.

You can, in some instances, do what is referred to encapsulation. This process is where you cover walls and ceilings with gypsum wallboard (drywall), plaster, or paneling. Just be aware that you are, in effect, "covering up" the problem - not removing it.

It is also much easier to replace the old lead-painted items such as doors, windows and trimwork yourself, than to try and strip off the paint. Yes, it's more expensive to install new items such as windows and doors, but, you'll remove the lead problem (making it safer), and add value to your building in the process.

If you do, however, see at some point the paint start to peel and chip off, to the point where it's beyond your control, it's time to deal with it on a professional removal basis.

(Before starting any lead removal project, visit the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) web page for a wealth of information on everything associated with lead paint, and other issues.)

Really Don't Want To Do Something Like This Yourself?

Have fully-insured, professionally certified lead abatement contractors help you Eliminate Toxic Materials or Mold problems wherever you may have them because they have the expertise and resources to do the job safely, and correctly.

I personally have tried to work with limited abatement myself, and, while successful at some things, I think I probably made other things worse.

I find it's certainly better to let the pros deal with those problems rather than put myself, or someone else in a hazardous situation at the expense of saving a few bucks.


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