Paint is a ubiquitous part of any home – show me a home that has no painted surfaces in it after all! However, many people are concerned about lead based paints and are looking for alternatives. The good news is that all modern paints (after 1997) are for all intents and purposes, lead free. Here’s everything you need to know. For more advice about lead free paint, or even about removing lead based paint, talk to your local painting
Definition of Lead Free Paint
Lead free paint is defined as a paint that does not contain any white lead in it or similar lead compounds. Since 1997, no domestic paint has been allowed to contain more than 0.1 percent of lead. Most commercially available paints contain less than 0.1 percent of lead.
It can be very difficult to find paint that is absolutely free of lead as it is near impossible to find lead free raw materials, due to the fact that lead is such a widespread contaminant. If you want to know exactly how much lead is in your house paint, the manufacturer will be able to give you an exact lead level. Please be assured however that all paint available today has incredibly low concentrations of lead and thus do not pose a danger to health.
What About Paints Produced Before 1970?
The concerns about lead based paint refer mainly to paints that were manufactured before 1970, as high levels of lead were often used in these paints. Before 1965, the recommended amount of lead in paint was 50 percent. From 1965, the acceptable level was 1 percent. In 1992, the level was reduced to 0.25 percent, and from 1997 until now, the maximum allowable level of lead in paint is 0.1 percent.
Safely Removing Lead Based Paint
Even small amounts of lead exposure due to paint dust or paint chips can pose a health hazard. Like asbestos, the problems occur when the lead paint is disturbed or damaged in some way. If the paint is in good condition or covered by well maintained lead free paint, it is unlikely to pose a hazard. You can test your paint if you are concerned that it contains lead. If it does and the paint is not in good condition or you just don’t want it there anymore, you’ll have to remove the paint in special ways such as through wet scraping, wet sanding and chemical stripping and wear protective clothing and a respirator while doing so. This can be a daunting process and you may want to leave it to a professional. All the waste generated by the removal of lead based paint also has to be contained and disposed of appropriately.