We're all too busy today, juggling more activities than we can fit into our schedule. As women, we also tend to put the needs of others ahead of our own, and live with that nagging list of things we need to do … tomorrow. The problem is that tomorrow never comes, until we find ourselves in crisis mode. That's why you want to identify the risk of lead paint in your home as soon as possible, and why LeadSafeAmerica.org gives out free lead paint test kits at their community events.
Sleep better knowing you don't have a lead paint problem.
Reduce stress with a plan to deal with lead paint problems!
But let's step back and explore milestones where people who know about lead paint, should be grabbing a lead paint test kit because it really is easy. In fact it probably takes more time to pick one up at the store, or you can save time ordering them online at Amazon. LeadSafeAmerica gives away 3M's LeadCheck Swabs, with two swabs per pack. If you're going to buy them, consider getting a pack with 8 swabs, so you can test multiple rooms in your house. If you have any swabs left, don't throw them in a drawer — share them with friends you care for.
Who Needs to Test for Lead Paint?
The simple answer is anyone living in a house or apartment that was built before 1978, should do the appropriate testing to learn if their home has any lead paint problems. The year is important as that's when US government regulations stopped manufacturer's from adding lead to their paint formulas. In reality you probably should care just as much about houses build a few years after this date, as lots of paint with lead was still around after 1978.
The chart above shows the probability that your home has lead paint, increases with the age of your home. But even with newer homes built in the late 1970s, you should test your house. The cost (dollars and time) is minimal and worth the peace of mind knowing you're house isn't hurting your family's health.
When Should You Test for Lead Paint?
Sadly most people don't learn about lead paint poisoning until it's too late. Too late because there's no cure for lead poisoning, although there are procedures for lowering blood lead levels (read CDC report about a NH girl who died from lead poisoning). That's why people need to do proactive testing for lead paint early, before anyone is hurt.
The surprising thing discovered while researching and writing this article, is that so few states, insurance companies, banks or mortgage companies are requiring these tests placing the burden on the consumer. In fact the standard home inspections used when buying a house, also don't include lead paint testing.
Massachusetts leads the way with their “Lead Law” that requires the removal or covering of lead paint hazards in homes built before 1978 where any children under six live. Lead paint hazards include loose lead paint and lead paint on windows and other surfaces accessible to children. Owners are responsible with complying with the law. This includes owners of rental property as well as owners living in their own single family home. (Click to see details of MA's Lead Law)
Here are the housing events where lead paint testing should be done. You can start by using a lead paint test kit but they're not really practical if you have a large home. Also, to do the testing correctly with a lead paint test kit, you must slice through all layers of the paint. That's where a lead-based paint inspection done by a Certified Lead-based Paint Inspector, makes more sense as they'll use an XRF analyzer for lead paint that has been certified by HUD.
- By law, home buyers and renters must be given an EPA booklet, Protect Your Family from Lead Paint in Your Home, any known information about the property and a “Lead Warning Statement” confirming you've received this information (click to learn more).When buying a house, make a lead paint test one of the contingencies in your offer. This should be done for houses built before 1978 and buyers have children under the age of six, or plan to remodel the house.
- When renting a house or apartment, when you have or are planning to have children. If you didn't do any testing and get pregnant, do the testing early so you have time to move before the baby arrives.
- When planning any renovation, repair or painting project, the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RPP) rule requires lead paint testing. It also defines the practices to be followed to protect workers and homeowners from exposure to lead pain, when any project exceeds six square feet indoors or 20 square feet outside.
- When you learn about lead paint poisoning, you should test your home if it was built before 1978, for peace of mind. You should also share what you've learned with friends that live near you (their homes are probably as old as your house) and also spread the information through social media.
When You Need More than a Lead Paint Test Kit
Using a lead paint test kit for initial testing makes a lot of sense, but may create a false sense of security. There are more extensive tests that should be used to identify lead paint risks, and more important, provide you with recommendations to address these risks. You can learn more about these different tests described in this article, 4 Types of Lead Paint Detection.
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