Home Renovations and Lead – What You Need To Know - For more than two decades, we as a society have known that lead is a harmful environmental pollutant and a public health threat. We have also known that many older homes contain lead-based paints, both on the interior and exterior walls, and that exposure to these paints can cause health problems. That's why builders stopped using lead-based paints years ago, but if your home was built before they were banned, you could be at risk.
So, how do you know if your family is breathing in this toxic substance, and whether it's safe to remodel or renovate your home?
The answer – hire a certified lead inspector!
First, you should know that you can be exposed to lead in various ways. According to Clark Seif Clark, a leading lead testing consulting firm, routes of exposure include contaminated air, drinking water, food, soil, deteriorating lead-based paints, and dusts. If your home was built prior to the 1980s and has not been remodeled since, there's a good chance that the builders used lead-based paint, both on the interior and exterior.
While it may seem like a frivolous expense, hiring a certified lead inspector should be at the top of your priority list if you are concerned about the possibility of lead in your home. After all, the cost to have an inspector check your home will be far less than the medical bills you'll have to pay if you get exposed to lead during the renovation process! An inspector can not only determine if your home is contaminated, but can also point you in the right direction as to which contractors can remove the lead and replace it with a safer alternative.
The Environmental Protection Agency has established a Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule (RRP) along with the Toxic Substances Act, and all licensed contractors who remove lead from homes must follow these laws. Because of these rules, you as a homeowner can rest assured that the lead has been properly removed, and you can breathe easy knowing that your home is now lead-free.
Having a lead inspection is especially important if you live in an older home, but are planning to renovate it. Before you even think about tearing down walls or undergoing any type of renovation project, you need to bring in a lead inspector. That’s because one of the major ways that people are exposed to lead is when lead-based paints are improperly removed. Experts at Clark Seif Clark say anything from dry scraping, to sanding, to open-flame burning can expose the lead that’s lurking in your paint. A quick inspection will let you know if your home contains lead-based paint, and if so, how it can be removed. Then, you can move forward with the renovations, knowing that you home is a safe, healthy environment for you and your family. If you fear that lead-based paints may have been used when your home was built, but you don't know who to contact to conduct an inspection, you can check the yellow pages, or contact your home insurance provider.
Your insurance agent should be able to refer you to someone, especially considering that lead exposure is not only a concern to you the homeowner, but to them as the company that insures that home. Hopefully with this information, you can determine if your home needs a lead inspection, and how to go about hiring the right certified inspector!
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