Hidden Pollutants Can Be The Worst
A while ago we talked about the hidden indoor air pollution dangers that could lurk in your home and one of these was lead. If you are thinking, “how on earth is that possible in this day and age?”; you’d be right to think that and homes that were built after 1980 are generally lead free (or at least legally they should be).
But if you’re living in a home that is older than 1980; there’s a good chance the paint on your walls and ceilings actually does still have lead in it (or if you home has had a recoat, then the paint under your paint is still there – and could contain lead).
Lead in the paint of your home might cause no problems at all – provided its left alone; but the minute you start touching it, knocking it around, or if it starts to wear over time – the dangers begin. Lead based paints were common, and were most often used for the skirting boards, cupboards, frames and doors; though it can be found on walls and ceilings. And if your home has pink or red primer – it’s likely that it has lead in it.
Even though lead is known to be dangerous, it’s not time to now freak out and start knocking down your walls. In fact, that’s when the lead will actually create problems for you. So here are some things you need to know about lead in the home, and whether you should be worried about them:
Health Effects Of Lead
According to research, lead levels in the blood of children under 4 years of age can actually contribute to a number of learning difficulties and behavioural problems. It can also cause hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems and anaemia in children.
Throughout our lives, lead can actually get in our bones. And if you’re pregnant, that lead is released alongside the maternal calcium that your baby is feeding on. This can cause problems such as, premature birth and smaller sized babies.
Adults who have either worked with lead in the past, whether through painting or mining industries; or those who have been exposed to lead in the home over long periods of time, have reported things like decreased kidney function, problems with reproductive systems and higher blood pressure.
Where’s The Risk?
Renovating: If you’re renovating an older home, probably best to get a professional in first to test your levels of lead in the paint. If you start knocking down walls and scraping off old paint from the walls, you could be putting your – and your family and guests, health at risk.
Every day living: if your walls and ceilings are lead paint, you risk exposure every day. But that doesn’t mean you have to have a panic attack every time you get home from work or the shops. Just take precautions to limit the amount of exposure you, and your family members, might have. Make sure you inform any visitors that have small children if there is lead in the home, and try to keep kids from running their hands along the painted walls or putting dusty hands in their mouths.
Outside: Don’t think that because the interior of your home is fine, everyone will be okay. Take a look at your garage, the exterior paint on the home, or the garden shed. Any of those could be faced with lead paint if they were built and painted before the 1980s. And there could be lead in your soil outside as well, so just keep an open and educated mind.
Other areas: It’s not just limited to paint either. Lead could be found in your pipes and plumbing materials, batteries, leaded gas if you happened to keep any in the home; and so on.
So What Can You Do About It?
As with everything, prevention is the key and today, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll even be able to find – let alone buy – lead based products.
If you’re living in an older home and you think your walls are lead and could be causing your household problems, get a professional in to do a test. If it tests positive, that doesn’t mean you have to then go and spend a fortune getting your walls replaced … it simply means you have to learn how to maintain it and prevent exposure by members of the household. For example – if there is any water damage to the walls or roof, make sure you fix it as soon as possible.
Keep the areas around the paint clean and if you ever see any paint chips, get some gloves on and wipe them down. Dispose of them as soon as possible. Try to avoid the amount of heat and steam you have in the home – so use cold water as much as you can, and if you do use the dishwasher, stovetop, bathroom; make sure you have the ventilation system working.
Keep the kids hands clean and teach them about good hygiene and never let them eat or drink from something that has been touching the walls or could have been contaminated with dust particles. Just keep everything as clean as you can and educate anyone who visits about the potential dangers.
If it comes down to it, move. But with the right precautions you won’t have to go to such extreme measures and you can enjoy living in your home comfortably and without issue for years to come.