For those of you who sell a lot of existing homes built before 1978 - AND especially built before 1950 - This should help to give you some good pointers about the OFTEN MIS-UNDERSTOOD topic of lead-based paint.
Homes that may have lead-based paint can be kept safe from lead exposure.
The KEY to Lead Paint Safety is eliminating exposure.
Minimize conditions that allow exposure.
Usually children are exposed to lead-containing dust which are very small particles of paint chips from:
- Deteriorating/Peeling paint
- Lead-containing paint that is on friction/impact surfaces
- Renovation work that is creating dust from surfaces that contain lead-based paint
Friction/impact surfaces are those surfaces where either doors rub on the door jamb or windows go up and down or where chips can form from baseboards, to name just a few.
Renovation work can cause harm months after the work is completed if care is not taken to contain the dust to the area(s) undergoing work. Dust can get in to the home's air duct system and be blown around causing exposure long after the work has been completed. If there has been renovation work performed, it would be a good idea to have your HVAC system and ducts cleaned by a high-end professional - and ask them specifically if their techniques can remove the tiny particulates.
Keep areas and suspect surfaces clean.
You need to have a vacuum cleaner that is equipped with a HEPA filter. Usually most of the mid-level and high end vacuum cleaners today have these. This is imperative because as you us a machine that is not equipped with a HEPA filter, it is just spreading the small particulate lead-containing dust around your home.
Wet mop and wet dust surfaces that cannot be effectively vacuumed like window sills, window troughs, and corners/edges of hardwood floors or ceramic tile/vinyl flooring.
If you have old windows that have alot of visible paint chips/debris in the window troughs - you may want to get a shop vac that is equipped with a HEPA filter to first clean all of the major amounts of this out of the trough and then wet dust these areas.
Keep painted surfaces in good condition.
Painted surfaces that are chipping and have edges of peeling paint can quickly and easily cause contamination. If these surfaces are kept in good condition, this minimizes exposure.
THE TRICK, however, is performing this work in a lead-safe manner!
Do not renovate surfaces before knowing if they contain lead-based paint.
Disturbing surfaces that contain lead-based paint can create lead-containing dust and cause exposure and contamination. If the dust is not contained properly, it can get in to HVAC ductwork and be blown around the house months - even years after the work has been completed.
When hiring this work to be performed, the contractor must use "lead-safe" work practices, or else the whole house could become contaminated with lead-containing dust. In some states, there may be requirements for homes that are having renovation work performed to have lead paint testing done if the home was built before 1978.
As always...I am here for you and WILL answer your questions or comments.