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SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT LEAD PAINT IN MY HOME?

This is a question we are asked quite often.  Our answer surprisingly enough is a question; “What year was your home built?”  The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have done extensive research over the years and estimate 64 million homes have some lead-based paint (LBP).

  • If you home was built prior to 1940 there is an 86% likelihood your home contains LBP.
  • If your home was built between 1941 and 1959 there is a 65% likelihood your home contains LBP.
  • If your home was built between 1960 and 1978 there is a 25% likelihood your home contains LBP.

The EPA and HUD have also determined that childhood lead poisoning is widespread in homes built prior to 1980 and the major contributor is LBP.  The primary exposure route for children is ingestion of lead dust.  Lead dust is generated as LBP ages and deteriorates.  Additional sources are chipping, sanding or scraping LBP containing painted surfaces.  How much “lead dust” does it take to create a health hazard?  Well the first thing you need to know it is a very minute number.  Lead dust hazards are measured in units called “micrograms.”  A microgram is 1/1,000,000 of a gram.

To help you understand how small a microgram is, take a minute to read the following example. A regular penny weighs 2 grams.  If you cut it into 2,000,000 pieces, yes two million, each one is equivalent of one microgram…get the picture…its way small. Having a “sense” of the size of a microgram, here are the government standards for a determination of no lead dust hazard:

  • 40 micrograms per square foot on a floor (40 of the 2,000,000 pieces of penny)
  • 250 micrograms per square foot on a window sill (250 of the 2,000,000 pieces of penny)
  • 400 micrograms per square foot on a window trough (400 of the 2,000,000 pieces of penny)

If your house was built prior to 1960 there is a very good chance you house contains LBP.  If you clean regularly and all the painted or coated surfaces are in good condition you need to maintain that condition.

If you plan on any renovation, repair or painting you may want to check out the EPA’s publication “The Lead Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right.”

Additional information is available here.