Why Lead Based Paint is Putting Your Building Occupants at Risk

By now it is a well-known fact that lead paint, or lead based paint, to use the proper term, is poisonous and poses a serious hazard to one’s health. But until a few decades ago, it was used extensively in homes and other types of buildings. In the USA, it was banned for residential use in 1977. But it is still used in Canada, although regulations on surface coating materials, which came into effect in 2005, limit its use. Homes and buildings that were painted with lead paint in the past continue to pose a serious threat to the health of occupants even today.

Why Was Lead Paint Used?
Lead is added to paint for several reasons; the most important is to obtain a specific color. Lead reacts with other elements to form various colored chemical compounds. Some of the most common compounds thus produced include Lead tetroxide (Pb3O4 or 2PbO.PbO2), which is red, Lead (II) antimonite Pb(SbO3)2/Pb3(Sb3O4)2, which is Naples yellow, Lead (II) chromate (PbCrO4), which is chrome yellow  and Lead (II) carbonate ((PbCO3)2•Pb(OH)2), which is white. In addition to changing the color of paint, lead can also speed up drying time, increase the durability of the paint, make the paint moisture-resistant and help the paint retain its freshness of appearance. These are the reasons lead based paint used to be so popular.

Why Lead Paint is Dangerous

The reason lead is so dangerous is that it is a very reactive heavy metal. Once it gets inside your body, it reacts with oxygen and acids to produce chemical compounds that cause a condition called lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can damage your internal organs, including your heart, kidneys, intestines, nervous system and reproductive system. Children are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning and may suffer behavioral and learning disorders as a result. The symptoms of lead poisoning include headache, pain in the abdomen, irritation, confusion and anemia. If left untreated, it can lead to seizure, coma and eventually death.

Lead poisoning doesn't occur just by standing near or touching a wall painted with lead paint. But as the paint gets older, it begins to chip off and the chips scattered on the walls and floors can be inadvertently ingested by children while playing on the floor or by adults when cleaning. Another source of lead poisoning is the lead dust which floats in the air when repairing and renovating a home or older building. This dust gets into your system when you inhale and makes you sick.

The only way to avoid lead poisoning is to avoid using lead based paint altogether. But if you live in a house or work in a building that was painted with lead paint, then you should take preventive measures to make sure that there are no chips and dusts on the floor and in the air. When hiring a contractor for repair and renovation, make sure that he or she understands the hazards of lead paint and knows the current regulations on surface coating.

If you’re dealing with renovations or demolition of a structure that involves lead-based paint, you need to take precautions to ensure the safety of workers and any building residents. FERRO Canada’s team has the experience necessary to protect your health and get the job done properly. Contact us today at 1-877-429-7760.

Please view the latest edition of FERRO's digital flip book HERE for a brief overview of how the various areas of expertise and services can benefit you.

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