What is Lead Poisoning?
Lead is a powerful neurotoxin that interferes with the development and functioning of almost all body organs, particularly the kidneys, red blood cells, and central nervous system. In young children, lead retards the development of the central nervous system and brain. High levels of lead exposure can result in coma, convulsions, and death. At low levels, lead can cause reduced IQ, reading and learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder and behavioral problems.
As a result, childhood lead poisoning is associated with lower educational achievement, higher rates of high school drop-out and increased behavioral problems. In the long run, children who are lead poisoned may be less likely to become positive contributors to our communities and our economy.
What causes Lead Poisoning?
Children - Childhood lead poisoning is the number one environmental health risk for children today. In the United States, more than three million children age six and younger -- that's one out of six -- already have toxic levels of lead in their bodies. Lead interferes with the development and functioning of almost all body organs, and retards the development of the central nervous system and brain. Lead is sometimes called, "brain poison." Even tiny amounts of lead can cause reduced IQ, reading and learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder and behavioral problems. As a result, lead poisoning is associated with lower educational achievement, higher school drop-out rates, and increased delinquency. It is estimated that lead poisoning has tripled the number of children needing special education. 80% of childhood lead poisoning occurs at home.
Many homeowners are not aware of the hazards associated with lead-based paint and unknowingly poison their own children by not following safe work practices during renovation or by not attending to deteriorating and/or chipping paint. While it is true that many kids get poisoned by eating paint chips -- they taste sweet -- most children are poisoned by invisible lead dust created when lead paint deteriorates from age, is exposed to the elements, is damaged by water, is exposed by friction (such as the opening and closing of a door or window), or during home renovation.
Adults - Most adults are poisoned at work. There are laws that seek to prevent this, but many are not yet widely enforced. Any employee who may be exposed to lead in any amount, should have personal air sampling done.
How big is the problem?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, childhood lead poisoning is the number one environmental health risk facing children in industrialized countries today. In the United States, more than three million children age six and younger-- that's one out of every six children -- already have toxic levels of lead in their bodies.
Why is remodeling an older home considered such a big risk?
If proper precautions are not taken, remodeling or renovating an older home (pre-1978) can generate a very large amount of dust. Even small jobs done during routine maintenance -- like painting -- can generate lead dust.
Do many homes have lead-based paint hazards?
It is estimated that at least 19 million homes have lead-based paint hazards, of which at least 4 million have young children under age the age of six living in them. (HUD 1990; EPA 1995).
What do I have to do to comply with the Federal disclosure laws?
Each time a home or apartment built before 1978 (the year lead was banned in residential paint) is sold or rented, owners are required to give sellers or renters a copy of the EPA pamphlet Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home and disclose any kown lead or lead hazards on the property. The pamphlet is free and can be ordered by calling 1-800-LEAD-FYI. Mobile homes are included.
Can I use a do-it-yourself testing kit?
You can, but you should know that HUD and EPA do not permit the use of chemical spot test kits as an official evaluation method. (Evaluations must be performed by EPA certified and state licensed lead inspectors and risk assessors.) The EPA says these kits may give unreliable results. One of the reasons is that lead paint is usually buried under layers of newer non-lead paint. The do-it-yourself testing kits often are unable to measure deeply buried paint layers. However, the kits are a good way to test pottery, toys and other household items for lead.
What's the difference between a lead inspection and a risk assessment?
A lead inspection tests every surface inside and outside your home to see if there's lead paint and where it's located. This is important information if you plan to renovate or do repairs that might disturb painted surfaces. (Lead paint under layers of newer non-lead paint is usually not a hazard unless it is disturbed.) A lead inspection does not tell you if the paint is a hazard, it simply tells you where it is.
What is XRF Testing?
XRF stands for x-ray fluorescence. An XRF is a portable x-ray machine that is frequently used by lead inspectors. It can see through a surface and tell if lead paint is underneath. XRF testing of painted components is completely non-destructive andcan detect lead paint through to the original substrate. Another way is to take paint chip samples and send them to a laboratory. The problem, of course, is that doing so leaves holes in the walls. The other problem is cost. Analysis of one sample usually costs about $20. Because there may be hundreds of samples taken in a house, the cumulative cost can be quite high.
What does a professional lead inspection cost?
XRF paint inspections usually cost between $300-400 for an average size single family detached home. Inspectors use HUD guidelines, even if the property is not part of the HUD system. There simply aren't any other widely accepted guidelines, so HUD recommendations have become the de facto standard. The final HUD Guidelines require each component in each room (or area) to be tested.
For example, in a bedroom the inspector will test the walls, the ceiling, the crown molding, the baseboards, the door, the door frame, the door molding, the window, the window frame, the window sash, the window sill, plus in closets, the shelves, shelf supports, walls, ceiling etc. Often, the inspector will test one or more of the componets multiple times. A typical three bedroom/2 bath house probably has at least 10 rooms/areas that have to be tested: living room, dining room, kitchen, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, laundry area, hallway, and entry. Realistically, you're looking at 150 to 300 separate XRF shots or tests. At minimum, that will take from 2 to 4 hours. Of course, a lot depends on the number and size of the ruoms, age and condition of the home and amount of painted architectual detail (i.e. chair rails; crown molding; baseboards; built-ins, etc.)
Who can perform lead paint inspections and risk assessments?
Any business performing lead paint inspection services in Florida must be certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Additionally, any person performing these inspections must also be individually certified by the EPA. When hiring an inspector you should ask for both the Firm Certification and Individual Certifications. Home inspectors generally do not have these certifications.
Is American Management Resources Corporation Certified to perform Lead Paint Inspections?
Yes. Both the company and the individuals performing lead paint inspections are fully and properly certified by the EPA and have been since mandatory certification rules went into effect. Our inspectors attend mandatory refresher classes and professional conferences to maintain their expertise in this unique industry.