Does My Building Have a Lead Problem?

June 20, 2008

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This week we have been examining various aspects of lead abatement. One question that building managers and facility supervisors may have is how to determine if a building has a lead problem. Answering that question requires looking at two factors: the age of the building, and the condition of its paint.

AGE: The likelihood that your building has a lead problem increases with age. All buildings painted before 1978 are likely to contain lead based paint. Structures that were originally painted before the 1960s were often coated with extremely lead-rich paint.

DAMAGE: When lead paint becomes damaged, there is a chance for toxic exposure to lead. The damaged paint could create dust which can pose a lead exposure hazard. The paint chips can also be accidentally ingested.

If your building has one or both of these risk factors, you should consider further action.

What You Should Do: Contact a certified lead-based hazard inspector and have a paint inspection and risk assessment performed for your building. A certified inspector knows how to sample the paint properly so that the risks of exposure are minimized. They also test the paint to determine if it contains lead. Although over the counter paint tests are available, these DIY tests are usually too inaccurate to depend on in a facility or even a private home. If lead is present, you may have to contact a certified professional for a lead abatement plan.

Have a happy and safe weekend.

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