For most people, the term “lead poisoning” conjures an image of a small child eating paint chips in a home built in the 1920s. However, research has shown that the most common way lead enters the body is from inhaling or ingesting microscopic dust. Though lead paint has taken a back seat to other environmental hazards in recent years, it remains a significant threat. Listed below are 5 things you probably didn’t know about lead paint - but should.
1. Lead paint is all around us: Massachusetts has the 4th oldest housing stock in the U.S. An estimated 69% of homes were built before 1978, the year lead paint manufacturing was banned in the U.S. The older the home, the more likely lead paint is present. Approximately 1 in 4 homes built between 1960 and 1978 contains lead paint. That percentage rises to 87% for homes built before 1940.
2. Lead poisoning doesn’t discriminate: Most of us at some point will either live or spend time in an environment containing lead paint. Lead paint dust is typically created through wear and tear of painted surfaces and home improvement projects. Inhaled lead dust enters the blood stream which can pose serious health risks. Though the effects of lead exposure are magnified in young children, elevated blood lead levels can result in irreversible health consequences if you're 3 or 83.
3. Every home built before 1978 is presumed to have lead paint: The lead law requires the removal of lead hazards in every home built before 1978 with a child under 6. But what if you don’t know whether there’s lead paint lurking in the railing caps. You can’t remove hazards you don’t know about. Right? Wrong. Ignorance is no excuse. If there’s a child under 6, the law presumes there’s lead paint somewhere. A lead assessment by a licensed inspector is required.
4. Deleading can improve the value of your home: Deleading a home is not unlike other home improvement projects. Replacing a roof or windows helps to create a secure home while reducing energy costs. A legally deleaded home is an attractive selling point that widens your pool of potential buyers, which can make it easier to sell, often at a better price.
5. Recent changes in the law have reduced remediation costs: Lead paint remediation takes 3 forms depending on the kind of surface: removal, encapsulation or covering. Lead paint on a high-risk surface (e.g., window sills, stair treads) usually requires full removal which increases project costs. In 2017, Massachusetts narrowed the scope of high-risk surfaces, which reduced remediation costs by an estimated 40%.