Child Tested Positive For Lead Exposure? Here's What You Need To Do

Posted on: 17 January 2017

Lead based paint was commonly used in homes built before 1978, which is when the Environmental Protection Agency enacted strict laws preventing lead paint usage after it was determined that lead exposure could cause serious health implications, especially in young children. Because of this danger, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends lead testing for children between 1 and 2 years old, especially for those who live in older homes. Older children who have not been tested should also be screened due to the serious health risks. 

If your child tested positive for lead exposure, you will need to find the source of lead in your home and prevent further exposure to the toxic substance. Here's what you need to know. 

Use test kits to find lead based paint

There are several types of DIY test kits for lead based paint. You can purchase test kits at most hardware stores and home improvement centers. It's a good idea to contact your county's Department of Health to see if they have any recommendations for your area, especially since most home builders use the same materials and techniques for each home they constructed. Test all painted surfaces, including walls, doors, windows, and flooring if painted. 

It's important to understand that not all lead-based paint is dangerous. Lead based paint is only dangerous when it is disturbed or damaged. It can be disturbed daily if the paint is on a movable surface, such as a window frame, but undisturbed if the paint is on an undamaged stationary surface, such as a wall. However, if the paint is chipping off, then clearly the lead can be easily disturbed. Obviously, the most dangerous location for lead paint to be found in a home is on windows and doors as they are disturbed on a regular basis. 

Options for removing lead paint from windows & doors

There are several options for dealing with lead paint, including encapsulation, enclosure, removal, or replacement. Encapsulation is the easiest and most affordable option as it is done by applying a coating over the lead paint to seal it. However, due to the friction that is created when opening and closing windows and doors, encapsulation is not recommended for these types of surfaces. Enclosure is done by covering surfaces with a different building material, which is not ideal for windows and doors but may work for walls and flooring. 

Lead based paint can be removed by using chemical paint strippers, low heat, or scraped with sand paper. However, keep in mind that doing so releases lead into the air, which can linger in the air and eventually land on any surface in the home, particularly low-lying areas where small children crawl and play. Also, paint of any kind can be difficult to completely remove from building materials with cracks and crevices, such as old window frames. 

The most preferred option to remove lead based paint from old windows and doors is to actually remove the old windows and doors and replace them entirely, including the sash and the supporting structures. To do this, a professional contractor with experience and knowledge in lead paint abatement is crucial due to the various federal and state guidelines and requirements that need to be followed. 

Obviously, replacing the windows in the home can be the most costly option. Fortunately, there may be special funding available to help pay for the replacement windows due to having a child who tested positive for lead exposure and poisoning. Contact your state's Department of Housing or the Department of Health for more information about grants and other resources that can help.