Removing lead paint is a serious business, so making sure you get a professional in to successfully remove it is really important.
The history of lead in paint:
Lead pigments were taken out of most paints in the 1960s with lead pigments and driers (a tvery low levels) were completely removed from decorative paints by the early 1980s. Many wood or metal surfaces painted before the 1960s could contain significant levels of lead. Although leaded paint has not been used for many decades old lead painted surfaces can still be found and can represent a possible source of exposure.
Lead can be extremely dangerous and can have a catastrophic effect on health. It can be breathed in as dust, fumes or vapour and can also be swallowed in the form of paint chips, dust or dirt containing lead. It can also be ingested by children e.g. via old cots painted with white lead paint.
If the amount of lead in your body gets too high it can cause, headaches, tiredness, irritability, constipation, nausea, stomach pains, anaemia or weight loss. Continued uncontrolled exposure can cause high blood lead levels that can have very serious health consequences, such as kidney damage, nerve and brain damage or infertility.
How do I know if a surface contains lead?
To determine whether or not lead-containing paint is on any particular surface, the paint may be tested by an experienced professional decorator with lead expertise using a lead test kit, that gives a simple indication of the presence of lead. Alternatively, specialist companies or laboratories can carry out lead testing.
Stripping lead paint:
There is only a health risk with lead paint if the paint film is unsound or disturbed. If the lead-containing painted surface is in good condition or it is already over-coated with a non-lead containing paint which is in a good condition, then removal could result in a greater exposure to lead dusts and particles. Old lead painted surfaces should only be treated or removed if the paint is flaking or chipping away, if dust and particles are present or if there is the possibility of the painted surface being around children.