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Do You Have to Remove Lead Paint?

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Lead paint, still found in older homes today is considered one of the most significant sources of lead exposure in the United States. Lead is an extremely toxic metal that can cause a variety of health problems, especially in children under the age of six. If you own or are planning to move into an older home, you may be wondering if an attempt to remove lead paint is warranted. The answer is simple; the answer is no.

If you live in an older house, where lead paint is likely to exist on ceilings and walls, the first step is deciding if the lead paint is actually a threat. Lead paint that is in good condition doesn’t need to be removed. Rather, it can simply be painted over with non-lead based paint or covered with wallpaper, wallboard or paneling.

However, if the lead paint is peeling, chipping, damaged by water, or in areas accessible to children, such as banisters, it should be removed. Lead paint that is on doors or windows will likely erode over time and should also be removed as a proactive step. But removing lead paint is not a job you should tackle yourself.

Why You Need a Professional to Remove Lead Paint

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there is no guaranteed safe way to remove lead paint on a do-it-yourself basis. Any attempt to do so can cause dust and fumes to circulate through the air, eventually landing on floors, tables, desks, and even children’s toys. Once it has settled, it can easily be ingested, inhaled, or reentered into the air through dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, or simply walking up the stairs. Thus, the only way to remove lead paint safely is through the hands of someone qualified in lead remediation.

Professionals are trained to take extreme precautionary measures and assure the containment of dust and fumes. These include removing furniture, sealing the room off from the remainder of the house, wearing respirators, abstaining from eating or drinking in the working area, disposing clothes worn during the process, and thorough cleaning with a special vacuum and a wet mop. Additionally, residents should be told to vacate the home until the job is done. Pregnant women and children are particularly prone to the risks of lead paint.

The task to remove lead paint is not something to be taken lightly. Lead paint can cause all kinds of sudden health problems, including stomach pains, diarrhea, nervous system damage, coma, and, when extreme, death. On a long term basis, it can cause weight loss, weakness, headaches, irritability, anxiety, tremors, fatigue, and severe damage to the reproductive and urinary systems.

The lead paint in your home may need nothing more than a fresh coat of paint or other cover up but it may also be dangerous, especially if you have small children in the house. Either way, if the lead paint in your home has you worried, call for assistance. Don't attempt to remove lead paint yourself. This is one job where, no matter your level of DIY expertise, you really do need to call in the professionals.

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