Lead Based Paint is a topic during most home purchases. A simple and sweet fact can help to explain why we are all concerned with peeling paint during home purchase process. One of the most important things to explain to people is that Lead Based Paint is sweet in taste. This is key information because it helps explain why peeling paint is viewed by lenders and a health and safety issue. When paint peels and paint flakes land on the ground, you risk a child or infant liking the sweet taste eating the paint. They will eat as many paint flakes as they can get their little hands on. Most adults know that eating paint flakes is not a great idea, but kids just love the sweet flavor that Lead Based Paint offers them.
All houses have the potential for lead contamination. For starters, lead is in the air. The lead in the air falls to the ground and accumulates there. It can then be carried into the house on clothes, , shoes, doggies and cats, etc. Although not a part of a house’s structure, many people are exposed to lead in food that comes from lead glazes on ceramics, pottery, and china, and liquids stored in crystal decanters. However, the most significant danger of exposure to lead in most houses relates to the following:
- Lead-based Paint Problems. Lead has been used in paint for centuries. It increases durability and has a color depth quality. In the United States, it is estimated that:
- Almost all houses built before 1940 contain lead-based in the paint
- 70 percent of houses built between 1940 and 1959 have lead-based paint
- 20 percent of houses built between 1960 and 1978 have lead-based paint
- After 1978 the amount of lead in paint was limited to 600 parts per million and is not deemed significant
- The mere presence of lead-contaminated paint, regardless of the age of the house, in and of itself does not necessarily present a health hazard. Only when there is the possibility of exposure to the lead in the paint should there be the concern. Significant exposure can occur when:
- Paint is peeling, chipped, or deteriorating in some fashion
- A child chews on surfaces coated with lead-based paint
- Surfaces are disturbed through remodeling or repairs
- Lead-based painted surfaces that are exposed to heavy use can release lead chips or dust. These potential problem areas are window sashes, doors, doorframes, painted drawer guides, stairs, railings and banisters, porches and fences, etc.
- Lead in Water. Lead is often found in domestic potable water systems. If copper pipes are present, lead solder was probably used to join them at the pipe joints. The risk of lead in a house’s water system is greatest in those built before 1982 or in houses that have a domestic well as their source of water. Some municipal water delivery systems still have water mains that were constructed with lead pipes.
- Lead in dust and dirt. In older houses, lead can often be found in house dust or in the dirt around the structure. In newer houses, it can often be found in the dirt around the structure if they are located near a major highway, freeway, or roadway. Lead near these roads are due to a legacy of leaded gasoline.