Lead-based paint was commonly used in homes built before 1980. Since then, scientists have found that even low levels of exposure to lead can be harmful to children’s health and development.
Removing or disturbing paint as part of a renovation project may expose you and your family to lead. Before you begin renovations, consider the following information in order to minimize the health risks to you and your family.
What are the health hazards of lead exposure?
Exposure to lead is bad for your health. Lead poisoning can occur when you are exposed to high levels of lead. This can cause anemia and impaired brain and nervous system functions.
Low levels of exposure to lead can also cause health effects, such as learning disabilities and behavioural problems in children.
The public’s exposure to lead has decreased over the years, but lead can still be a problem. It is important to be aware of lead sources so you can minimize your health risks. Lead-based paint is a dangerous lead source but precautions can be taken to reduce exposure.
Who is at higher risk?
Children and pregnant women are at higher risk. Toddlers are at risk when crawling on floors containing lead chips or dust. Children can ingest lead by swallowing lead paint chips, or putting their hands, toys and other objects that have come in contact with lead dusts in their mouths. Once ingested, children absorb more lead into their bodies compared to adults. For pregnant women, even low levels of lead can affect the growth of the developing baby.
Does my home contain lead-based paint?
Homes built before 1960 were most likely painted inside and outside with lead-based paint. Newer homes, particularly those built before 1980, may also contain lead paint. It is not likely that paints containing high levels of lead were used inside the home after 1980.
In Canada since 2010, any paint containing more than 0.009% lead must be labeled to indicate that it is not safe to use in areas accessible to children or pregnant women. If you are painting your home, make sure that the paint you buy is for interior, or inside use only.
Exterior paints, which are paints used on the outside of a home, can contain lead. If it contains lead, the paint will have a warning label. Lead paint should never be used inside a home or building.
The BC Ministry of Environment regulates the disposal of some waste materials based on the leachability of metals and other compounds from the waste. Testing may have to be carried out on materials removed from the building before they can be sent for disposal. This will depend on where the waste is being sent.