The lead crisis of the ‘70s seems like a thing of the past. You might even remember when the U.S. banned lead paint from home goods and paints in 1978, after recognizing the harmful effects it can have on the brain and kidneys. There was a major recall of toys, shopping carts, and other items to reduce exposure to the dangerous element. Though lead products have been off shelves for 40 years, this once-commonly-used ingredient is still a problem for many people residing in towns with older homes, like Weston, Massachusetts.
A Silent Intruder in Massachusetts Historic Homes
Historic houses make up most of the homes in Massachusetts, with 71% of homes having been built before the 1978 lead ban. This means there are copious numbers of houses with potentially outdated walls containing lead.
What is worse is that dangerous levels of lead are still appearing in 17 children out of 1,000 under the age of 5 in Massachusetts alone. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) safety levels for the amount of lead found in the blood is 5 micrograms/deciliter, meaning that 17 out of 1,000 children have blood levels of 5mcg/DL or higher.
Though the number has vastly decreased since 2001, data shows there is still a problem with lead exposure, and it’s happening in part because of the paint used in older houses prior to 1978. The silent intruder has been residing in the walls of many historic Massachusetts homes over the years, unbeknownst to those residing in their charming homes.
How Lead Spreads and Affects Your Health
When old paint residing on walls, window panels, doors, and other places within your house deteriorates and chips away, the lead-laden dust is released into the air, where it is inhaled and touched by family members.
Lead can affect children, unborn babies in pregnant women, adults, and pets alike, with lifelong effects. Common side effects of lead exposure include:
- a decrease in IQ
- developmental delays
- neurological changes in behavior
- body aches and fatigue
- nausea and abdominal pain
- high blood pressure
- and difficulty concentrating/memory problems
How Massachusetts is Tackling the Lead Crisis
Some Massachusetts districts have lead quantities that are triple the levels of that in Flint, Michigan, a city that went so far as to declare the lead levels there to be a state of emergency. To combat the lead problems in the houses of those in Massachusetts, Massachusetts State has issued the following laws:
- All homes with children 6 and under must be free of lead.
A mandatory de-leading and inspection process is enforced if a child’s blood is found to have a 25mcg/DL or more.
The issues with this law stem from the fact that low-income families, which are more likely to be exposed to higher concentrations of lead, might evade taking them to the doctor to avoid costs and inspections.
- Sellers must disclose known lead problems in the home prior to selling.
This law is problematic in that sellers purposefully avoid inspecting their homes for lead so that they don’t have to pay to have it de-leaded, which can be costly.
In other words, people sell houses that haven’t been properly inspected, causing new families to move into old homes that are still coated with lead paint.
In addition to the laws mentioned above, Massachusetts has a case management system for children who have 10mcg/DL of lead in their blood that encourages home inspections and healthcare outreach programs. However, this effort is negated because parents can refuse services.
The Importance of Having Your Home Inspected for Lead
Lead inspections are one of the main reasons that lead exposure rates have dropped over the past few decades. According to the Department of Public Health, however, a surprising 90% of Massachusetts homes built before 1978 have yet to be de-leaded.
Having your home inspected is an easy process:
- First, make sure you contact a licensed lead inspector. A certified lead inspector has been licensed by the State of Massachusetts.
- The inspector will schedule an appointment with you at your site. You’ll want to clean surface areas prior to the appointment day.
- Once they come to your home to conduct the inspection, they will visually assess the entire area. The visual inspection includes looking at chipped, peeling, or otherwise damaged paint surfaces.
- Then, the lead inspector will take a sample of dust from every room in your home. A swipe cloth is used to take the sample.
- After all samples have been collected; they will be sent to a laboratory to inspected closely for any lead contaminants.
- Next, you will receive results and either obtain a Full Risk Reduction Certificate or need to take action to rid your house of lead so that you can pass an additional inspection.
Keeping Your Family Safe from Lead
Without a push for fully removing lead from homes built prior to 1978, there is a chance that the beautiful, historic home you’ve been living in for years, or even the one you recently bought, could contain lead. If you decide to have your house inspected for lead, and the tests come back positive, you will need to take steps to remove lead from your home.
To ensure that your walls are safe from lead, a certified professional, such as Catchlight Painting, can provide you appropriate lead remediation and a quality paint job to help protect you and your family from any lead exposure in your paint.
Historic homes in the greater Boston area require someone who knows how to successfully provide your historic house with the care that it needs. For that, it is best to select a house painter in Weston, MA, and surrounding areas.
Once your house is successfully repainted, you can sleep more easily at night, knowing you and your family are safe from unwanted lead paint.