These days, paint is made from four main ingredients: pigment (to give it its colour), resin (which is used as a binder to hold the pigment particles together), solvent (which acts as a carrier for the pigments and resin) and additives (which promotes ease of brushing, mould resistance and drying).
Once upon a time, paint contained lead.
As the Government of Canada explains, this time was before the 1960s. People painted the interiors of their homes with paint that was highly dangerous. Lead-based paint is known to have very harmful effects on our health. If the paint chipped off and became ingested somehow, it could lead to lead poisoning and the onset of other ailments such as anemia.
“Low levels of exposure to lead can cause health effects such as learning disabilities and behavioural problems in children,” explains HealthLink BC, “High levels of exposure to lead may cause lead poisoning and other issues such as anemia and impaired brain and nervous system functions.”
Even though lead-based paint was no longer used to paint the interiors of homes after 1960, it was still commonly used to paint exteriors up until 1990. Houses built after 1990, says HealthLink BC, should not contain any lead in its paints. By the 90s, all consumer paints in Canada and the United States were lead-free.
Lead-based paint is almost like asbestos.
When it is left alone, it is practically harmless. However, when it is disturbed, a health risk is created. Asbestos that is airborne can enter our lungs, leading to major health issues including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.
“Whenever you disturb surfaces with lead paint, you risk creating hazardous lead dust even if the lead paint is covered with new paint,” explains HealthLink BC, “To reduce the chance of exposure to lead-based paint, surfaces in good condition can be covered with non-lead paint, vinyl wallpaper, wallboard or paneling.”
Should lead paint be removed?
If you believe you have lead-based paint in your home and you wish to remove it, it’s vital that you take certain safety precautions. Firstly, remove any children and pregnant women from the area where the paint removal will be taking place. They are especially susceptible to the health risks posed by lead paint.
Secondly, it’s imperative that those working on the lead paint removal protect themselves. Coveralls, goggles, gloves and masks should be worn. You want to strictly avoid the inhaling of dust, mist or fumes from the lead paint. As well, be sure to absolutely avoid any eating, drinking or smoking in the area where the paint is being removed.
“Protect the entrance to the working area with plastic to contain dust,” advises HealthLink BC, “Remove all drapes, rugs, furniture, and household items from the area. Cover objects that cannot be moved, including the floor, with heavy plastic, and seal with tape. Fill a spray bottle with water and a small amount of detergent to wet all surfaces and to contain any dust during renovations or clean-up.”
Testing your home for lead paint is a wise choice.
Before you perform any renovations or remodelling, it’s a smart idea to discover the potential health risks you and your family may be facing by making changes to your home.
Enviro-Works Inc. provides testing for lead paint. Paint suspected of being lead-based can be submitted and analyzed by atomic absorption. Sample types include paint & tiles, air filters and surface dust wipes. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 780-457-4652 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.