It's not something you probably give much thought about if you have a newer home but if you're in an older home its lead-based paint should be a concern.
"There are about 24-million homes that Federal officials estimate would have dangerous levels of lead-based paint," says Neighborhood Specialist Joshua Owens with Angie's List.
Angie's List is the national consumer organization that helps homeowners to find reliable help in more than 280 categories of service, including painting and remodeling. The company is hosting a national tour to 15 cities to help inform and educate consumers and service providers about lead-based paint and how to safely work with it.
"Lead-based paint was outlawed as an interior use in homes in 1978. So any home built before 1978 probably has lead-based paint in it and, in fact, any home built before 1960, almost certainly does," says Owens.
The tour is in conjunction with the National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week October 20-28, 2007. This past weekend Angie's List partnered locally with the City of San Diego Environmental Services Department, County of San Diego, Comprehensive Health Centers, La Maestra Community Health Centers, Bayside Community Center, Environmental Health Coalition, and the San Diego office of the American Lung Association of California for an educational awareness event.
"In the San Diego area 63 percent of homes were built before 1980 and about 26 percent of homes were built before 1960," says Owen.
They move on to Portland, Oregon for a final event at the end of this month.
Owen says Angie's List decided to host educational forums after they did some research on how service providers were dealing with lead-based paint issues. "What we found is that approximately one-third of the service providers were suggesting things that would be downright dangerous when it comes to working with lead-based paint. So that's kind of what gave us the idea to do the Angie's List Lead Safety Tour," says Owen.
Federal law requires contractors working on homes built before 1978 to notify owners and tenants that they may be disturbing lead-based paint. The law also requires them to provide homeowners with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's pamphlet, Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home.
Lead-based paint can be especially dangerous for children. At the events, blood testing will be done on children as young as nine months to six years old.
"The most important thing to do is to reduce and eliminate the exposure to lead in the home," says Owen.
When working with a contractor, be sure to ask what type of lead-safe practices will be used to reduce the exposure to lead-based paint in your home.
Also make sure the contractor and you take extra pre-cautions to keep dust from any remodeling from getting into the air circulation. Owen recommends covering furniture so that dust and residue don't end up on your household items and, after the work is done, wiping down walls as well as doing a thorough cleaning. The next lead-safety event is scheduled for: October 28, 2007 at:
Matt Dishman Community Center
77 Northeast Knott Street
Portland, OR 97212
12 – 2 p.m. Blood testing