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What is lead?
Lead is a heavy metal extensively used in the past for its durability in the production of paint and glazing. Most buildings constructed before 1978 contain lead in at least one layer of paint. Generally, the older the building, the more likely lead paint is present. Lead can be found in:
✔ Household dust from deteriorated paint or past renovation activities
✔ The soil around a building from deteriorated paint, from past renovation activities, or even from the past use of leaded gas in cars
Is lead harmful to my health?
In general, harmful exposure can occur when lead dust is inhaled or ingested as a result of:
✔ Aging paint on surfaces (breaks down and may chalk or flake into small lead dust particles)
✔ Opening and closing painted doors or windows causing chipping
✔ Demolition work
✔ The building or home maintenance or renovation
✔ After a catastrophe such as a fire or a flood
A person's body absorbs lead as if it were a needed mineral, like calcium or iron. Gradually the lead builds up in the body and can lead to:
✔ Memory loss
✔ Abdominal pain
✔ Kidney, nervous system, and brain damage
✔ Developmental issues in young children (children commonly explore the world through touch and taste, often crawling or playing on affected surfaces)
What should I do about it?
Because of the complexity and seriousness of a project involving lead, it is important to test any painted surfaces prior to disturbing them. If it is determined there is lead in the paint, hire a contractor with the proper licenses and certifications at the earliest stage possible so that your job is handled efficiently, safely, and in compliance with the law.
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