Did you know that renovations and even normal indoor wear-and-tear (such as on doors, windows, stairs and stairs railings) may expose you to lead-based paint if your home was built before 1960?
If your house was built between 1960 and 1990, the exterior may contain lead-based paint. Houses built after 1990 should not contain lead because all consumer paints produced in Canada and the U.S. were virtually lead-free by this time.
Lead poisoning can cause anaemia as well as brain and nervous system damage. The risk is greatest for children because they are growing and absorb lead easily. Even small amounts of dust with lead are dangerous to infants and children. Unborn children are also at risk if the mother-to-be absorbs lead. Currently there is no known safe level of lead exposure.
Here are some tips to reduce lead exposure during your renovations:
- Before you begin, make sure the room is well ventilated: set up a fan so it blows air out through an open window.
- Keep children and pregnant women away from the work area.
- Do not use sanders, heat guns or blowlamps to remove lead-based paint. This creates toxic dust and fumes with lead. Instead, use a chemical paint stripper paste that can be applied with a brush.
- Isolate the work area by covering doorways and vents with plastic sheeting and tape to prevent the spread of scrapings, chips and paint particles throughout your house.
- Wear goggles, gloves and a good-quality breathing mask. If you spill any chemical stripper on your skin, wash it off right away. If you get chemical stripper on your work clothes, take them off immediately and wash separately from other clothing.
- Clean the work area thoroughly at the end of each day. Wipe down the area with a clean damp cloth, and throw the cloth away.
For more information about lead exposure, click here.
Visit the Health Canada website for tips on how to reduce exposure to chemicals during your DIY and renovation projects.
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