This entry is a bit long-winded, but I think that this is a very important topic for all. I’ve been a faithful This Old House magazine subscriber for years. I’ve enjoyed reading about all of the fantastic remodels and old house restorations, but as far as I know (and let me know if I'm wrong), there is not one article about the dangers of removing lead paint. Most of these renovations and restoration jobs require that you disturb walls/paint. I used to get very motivated reading about people who uncovered beautiful wood underneath layers of paint they removed.
Personally, I had a very bad scare last year. My husband and I have been restoring our 115 year old house for the last 6 years. We were not planning to have kids, so just like the poeple in This Old House, we went ahead and stripped the paint off of all of our mouldings. The floor was painted too, so we hired a floor professional to sand them. 6 years later, the house was still not finished, and lo and behold, I got pregnant. We had a healthy baby girl, and with the encouragement from our pediatrician, we had our house tested for lead. The numbers were off the charts, so I immediately had the baby tested. Luckily, the tests came out negative and we were VERY relieved to say the least. We have her tested every 6 months due to the risks and so far, she is clean.
I am in my 40s and I know that people in my age group and older have been exposed to lead paint. My husband remembers eating paint chips (and he's still a smart cookie).
The city where I live in is filled with rows and rows of old houses. When the renovation boom came along, most of the houses on my block were gutted and re-done. Where did all of the lead-laden debris go to? Answer: The landfills. When I was redoing my kitchen, I consulted with a lead abatement specialist and for a 400 square room, he quoted me $7,500 to take down 4 walls!! We definitely could not afford that. When I asked him why the price was so high, he replied that he has to contain the lead paint in a special metal barrel where it will be incinerated at a special facility. It just didn't make sense to me - so how about the other houses when they did their demos? Did they place their debris in special metal drums too? I don't think so.
I also talked to the City’s top lead specialist, and he offered to do a lead test in my home. He said that if he finds any lead in my house, he will close my house down and won’t let me in until I perform lead abatement - this could cost over $20,000!! How about the other houses? All of them have lead too. Shouldn’t he close those houses down too? He had no comment about that.
I was reading about how ingesting one micron of lead can screw up a child's brain development, and how a neighbor's house gut job can affect you as well since their lead dust can land on your property. If this is true, my child's lead levels should be sky high. Several of my neighbors have gutted their houses and I know that there are more than several hundred micron particles of lead dust stuck somewhere between our floor boards due to our prior work removing paint and sanding the floors.
In my house, there are several doorways where the hacked up mouldings have peeling paint - they desperately need replacing. I'm stuck because prying off the moulding would disturb the paint and produce lead particles, but not removing the moulding is bad too because the paint will continue to crack and fall off. I can't imagibe spending $2,500 per doorway for a lead abatement company. So what do I do? Move out?
I literally walk around with a spray bottle of Ledizolv (a cleaner that dissolves lead particles - used by lead abatement companies), and I'm making myself crazy thinking about all the lead particles that are hiding in the nooks and crannies. I cringe when my daughter plays on the floor, and I am constantly washing her hands. My question is for the old house owners out there - has anyone else been in the same shoes? If so, how did you deal with it? The bottom line is that lead is everywhere (and I mean EVERYWHERE), and believe me, I am fully aware of the dangers of lead. How do you live in your house without going crazy thinking about that? :eek: