What hazard does lead based paint pose?
Exposure can cause permanent damage - especially in young children - including decreased IQ, development delays and behavioral disturbances.
How can I tell if my home presents a risk?
In general, the older the home, the more likely lead paint was used on and in it. This is especially true for homes built prior to 1950, but lead-based paints were widely used up to the time they were banned for residential purposes in 1978. However, ther presence of lead paint does not necessarily mean that it presents a hazard. To present a health threat, it must somehow enter the body. Paint htat is well cared for generally does not pose a danger. However, even in well-maintained homes, friction and impact surfaces, such as door jambs or sliding windows, can create fine lead dust that can be inhaled or swallowed.
The best way to test your home for lead is to engage the services of a certified lead-based paint inspector or a risk assessor. An inspector can tell you if there is lead in the home; a risk assessor can tell you the extent of the hazard. Home test kits for lead are available, but may not always be accurate. The home test kit can only tell you if lead is present on a surface. It cannot tell you how much lead ther is, if ther is a lead paint hazard, or what needs to be done ot repair the hazard.
What if I am planning to remodel my home?
Once released into the environment, lead loesn't break down, and its dust can be invisible to the eye and still cause lead poisoning. Whether you are planning to do the work yourself, or to hire a professional, it is important that you educate yourself about remodeling safely. If you are going to hire a professional painter or remodeler, ask the contractor before the work starts what he or she knows about lead-safe work proactices and the steps that he or she plan to take to reduce or eliminate lead-based paint hazards during the job. Any contractor removing or stabilizing paint on housing or child care settings built before 1978 must also have a Lead-Based Paint Permit from the Lead_Based Paint Program. The Lead-Based Paint Program has several publications on remodeling for do-it-yourselfers, property owners, property managers, and professionals.
The Oregon Department of Human Services has a wealth of information on the subject. http://public.health.oregon.gov/HealthyEnvironments/WorkplaceHealth/Work-RelatedLeadPoisoning/