How to Know If Old Paint Contains Lead?
If you own, manage, live in, or have a business in an old building, you may be wondering if the paint contains lead. This is particularly important if the paint is damaged or flaking off as lead paint is a hazard and the source of numerous medical problems if people come in contact with it.
While none of these indications, below, are 100 percent reliable, the history of the building may give you an idea if the paint contains lead.
Canada did not enact law to restrict the amount of lead in interior paint until 1976. Then in 1990 the Canadian Paint and Coatings Association asked paint manufacturers to voluntarily remove lead from all paint. This means that exterior paint can still contain lead.
If a building was built before 1976, then there is a good chance that there is lead in some of the interior paint.
Another potential indicator is by the appearance of old paint. Old paint that has a chalky residue on top of it may contain lead. Also, there is a pattern of crackling called “alligatoring” that sometimes indicates lead paint.
The only way to know for sure if paint contains lead is to have that paint professionally tested in a laboratory. There are smaller DIY kits, but these kits are not nearly as accurate as real laboratory testing. It is important to know not just if there is lead, but how much lead there is.
If your paint does contain lead, then there is a strong possibility that you will need professional abatement and removal of the lead paint. Therefore, you might as well have professionals do the testing in the first place. If you suspect your building has lead paint, get the paint professionally tested right away to ensure the safety of building occupants.
O'Grady, Kelly, and Amélie Perron. “Reformulating lead-based paint as a problem in Canada.” American Journal of Public Health vol. 101 Suppl 1,Suppl 1 (2011): S176-87. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2011.300185
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