Lead paint exposure fixes

Authors: JD Ruhs, Holden Jones, Hannah Tannas

How do we solve the problems of lead-based paint exposure?

When it comes to reducing lead paint exposure, removing the lead-based paint itself is not necessarily the easiest solution. Instead, some solutions include painting over the area with new non-lead-based paints and putting up drywall. For areas like window sills, vinyl or aluminum can be used to cover up areas with lead-based paints. This practice of covering up surfaces with lead-based paint with other surfaces is referred to as “enclosure” (“Lead-Safe Renovation”). 

What is the current policy in Illinois about lead paint exposures?

The current policy for fixing lead paint exposures in Illinois is the Illinois Poisoning Prevention Act and Code. This act in place is meant to reduce and prevent the occurrence of lead poisoning in the children of Illinois (“Lead Poisoning Prevention Act”). 

Cited Source: “Blood Lead Reference Value.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 Dec. 2022, www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/data/blood-lead-reference-value.htm. Blood Lead Levels in U.S. Children Ages 1–11 Years, 1976–2016, ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/EHP7932. Accessed 22 May 2023.  

How can the average citizen find out if they are at risk?

The first step is knowing when your house was built; if it was constructed before 1978, there’s a good chance that lead-based paint was used (“How can I tell”). Lead paint was banned for use in residential buildings across the country in 1978, but it was used widely in construction before that, and use did not stop instantly after it was banned (“How to Identify”). So if your house is pre-1978, there’s reason to be suspicious, and even more so if anyone who lives in the house is experiencing symptoms of lead poisoning like headaches, nausea, muscle pain, or memory loss and personality change (“How to Identify”).

Lead-based paint is only a hazard if it’s deteriorating and producing dust or paint chips that can be inhaled or ingested, so if you suspect lead-based paint, look for areas where the paint is damaged, and be extra careful to check high-risk surfaces like windowsills and doorways (“How to Identify”).

If you find any areas where the paint is damaged in some way or another, you can purchase an EPA-recognized test kit and test for lead yourself (“How to Identify”), but it’s highly recommended that you hire a professional, certified lead inspector (“How can I tell”). That person will be able to tell you if there are any current lead hazards in your home and what your next actions should be (“How can I tell”).

Works Cited

“How can I tell if my home contains lead-based paint?” Environmental Protection Agency, 30 March 2023, https://www.epa.gov/lead/how-can-i-tell-if-my-home-contains-lead-based-paint. 

“How to Identify Lead Paint in Your Home: 5 Steps.” Green Orchard Group, 6 April 2022, https://greenorchardgroup.com/how-to-identify-lead-paint-in-your-home-the-5-steps/. 

“Lead Poisoning Prevention Act.” Illinois General Assembly, https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1523&ChapterID=35. Accessed 18 May 2023.

“Lead-Safe Renovation, Repair, and Painting.” New York State Department of Health, revised March 2023, https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/lead/renovation_repair_painting/index.htm.

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