OLDER BUILDINGS OFTEN MEAN HIGH LEVELS OF ENVIRONMENTAL LEAD
Once a common building material, lead is now known to be an environmental hazard. Lead exposure has been linked to severe mental and physical disabilities. Children are especially at risk for lead poisoning, though it can affect everybody. Owners often want the lead removed from their buildings for health reasons. And many jurisdictions require lead abatement to take place before housing can be offered to the public as rental stock for the community.
WHERE IS LEAD FOUND?
Lead paint is frequently found in older buildings, particularly those built before 1978. Other building materials may also contain lead, including older plumbing systems. Further lead contamination can often be found in the air, soil, or water. Lead can even be found in the dust of older homes. Lead is a serious problem that should be investigated by a professional to determine the extent of the problem and the measures necessary to reduce the associated risks.
HOW DOES LEAD ABATEMENT WORK?
It’s important to note that lead is toxic, and all abatement activity is regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Due to the real risks of lead poisoning, everybody involved that the work should be properly trained and insured. In many parts of the country, they are required to hold special licensing.
First, a certified lead inspector takes a close look at the property, identifying potential sources of lead including dust and crackling paint. The lead inspector takes samples and has them analyzed for the presence of lead.
If an inspection determines that lead is present, a certified risk assessor should be called in to determine the extent of the problem. These specialists are responsible for documenting the extent of lead’s presence in the building, and they create a remediation plan.
US Restoration can then begin the process of removing or encapsulating the hazardous material.
The first order of business is to properly prepare the environment for lead abatement. Disturbing or creating dust and damaging lead containing materials can create a hazard that spreads throughout the building. Proper site preparation keeps this to a minimum.
In some instances, the lead can be encapsulated, preventing it from breaking down to dust and polluting the environment. Common encapsulation techniques include sealing with latex paint or installing flashing over the affected surfaces.
Building materials higher amounts of lead must be treated as hazardous waste. Abatement services are always recommended in such cases to remove the contaminants and restore safe working or living conditions.
After the lead abatement and reconstruction process, it’s important to properly clean the building to ensure that all lead dust has been removed.
In many instances, identified lead hazards that were identified by the certified lead inspector are re-tested, and a certificate is issued if the building is now considered safe.
WHO IS AT RISK FOR LEAD POSIONING?
Children are more susceptible to lead poisoning than adults. They are more likely to ingest or inhale lead dust that has settled to the ground, or present in soil soil or flaking paint. Lead poisoning can cause serious developmental problems for their growing bodies.
In children and adults, the effects of lead poisoning include, but are not limited to, neurological, hematological, renal, and cardiovascular problems. Often times, these symptoms do not present themselves until damage is severe and irreversible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintain records on lead statistics by state, where you can see the percent of children with elevated blood lead levels in your area.
It is always a good idea to have an independent lab test paint and water samples in older homes to determine whether or not lead is present. If exposure is suspected, a blood test can be requested to confirm lead poisoning in children or adults. Regular cleaning with damp cloths and HEPA vacuums can reduce the risk to occupants. But in the long term, it is safer to have a qualified contractor address the contaminated materials so that they can be removed or encapsulated.
For more information, please refer to:
Environmental Protection Agency. 2010. “Questions About the Disposal of Lead- Contaminated Items” Accessed April 12, 2011
Environmental Protection Agency. 2010. “The Lead Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right.”Accessed April 11, 2011
IF YOU THINK YOUR BUILDING CONTAINS LEAD, GIVE US RESTORATION A CALL
US Restoration has completed many lead abatement projects throughout the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama. We can help to ensure that your property is properly tested, and any hazardous lead is properly encapsulated or removed.