Lead Based Paint Blues
by Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher

Late last year we were inundated with recalls of products manufactured in China that were either contaminated in some way, or finished with paints containing high levels of lead. Lead was added as a drying agent and sometimes as a pigment to oil or "alkyd" based paints and used extensively in homes built before 1940. Although oil based paints continued being used, water or "latex" based paints were introduced during the 40s, and by now are all that the building trades commonly use. Seems it took almost an entire generation as well as new environmental regulations to virtually eliminate the use of oil based paints containing lead pigments and dryers. All oil based paints manufactured today for home use contain no lead and are safe to be used where extra durability or a higher gloss is desired.

Here are a few tips....

1. If you plan to remodel any home that was built before the 1980s, consider having the paint tested for lead by a reputable lab that adheres to HUD guidelines.

2. Lead based paint is a major source of lead poisoning. In adults and children, lead poisoning causes nerve damage and other very serious irreversable effects on the body.

3. If you live in an older home, consider having yourself and your family tested for lead poisoning.

4. In older homes, if the paint is chipping, cracking, chalking and flaking off, this may lead to "lead dust" that would be present throughout the home and would be easily transfered from hand to mouth and even reintroduced into the air when cleaning and dusting.

5. For more info on this very dangerous health hazard, visit this government publication .

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