Starting a DIY Project on an Old Home – What You Need to Know About Lead Exposure

It’s always a fun and exciting undertaking to start your very own DIY renovation project in your home. Your expectations are high, you’re expecting great results, and you can’t wait to let your creative side takeover. While the majority of DIY renovation projects aren’t going to cause any sort of health risk to you, it is still important to be aware of what lead exposure means, how it can happen, and what to do should you become exposed. Let’s take a closer look so you can be prepared.

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What is Lead Exposure?

Lead exposure is a very real and very serious threat to your health. Part of what makes it so dangerous is that many times people don’t even realize they have been exposed, which will allow the effects to really take hold. Even the smallest amount of lead exposure can cause permanent brain damage in a child, and even lead to death. Pregnant women are also at an elevated risk since the baby’s brain is busy trying to develop.

Lead exposure is also referred to as lead poisoning and means there is a build-up of lead in your body. It usually builds up slowly over time, meaning months or years, and then will result in serious physical impairments.

How is Lead Exposure Caused?

It’s extremely important to be aware of the most common risks of lead exposure, which are the most common places and ways you can be exposed.

Paint is the most common way people are exposed to lead. Back in 1978 the government actually banned the use of lead-based paint in houses, but unfortunately it can still be found in many homes across the country. The paint itself needs to be removed in the proper and safe manner, which isn’t always followed. If the proper precautions aren’t taken, that person and anyone else living in the house is then at risk.

If you suspect that your home may have lead paint on the walls, it is best to have it professionally checked right away.

Other ways people can be exposed to lead include dust from soil and paint. Let’s say you are chipping at lead paint in your home, not realizing it’s lead paint, that dust you are creating can be lethal. Then there is soil, where exposure to leaded gasoline has now posed a risk to the soil quality itself. The good news is that this particular method of exposure has been decreasing over the past 20 years.

The less common exposure comes through air and water. If you live near an industrial plant or you use lead tools, you have a higher chance of being exposed. Meanwhile the water supply is becoming better, but is far from perfect as we learned in Flint, Michigan.

Be Alert and Wary

So before you jump into that next home renovation project on your older home, it’s important to be aware of the risks of lead exposure and the most common ways you’ll run into it.


Author: Maja Markovski

Maja Markovski

A 35-year-old female architect with a passion for innovative, sustainable design. I blend creativity and functionality to transform spaces into beautiful, practical environments.


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