Despite the fact that lead based paint has been banned since 1978 due to the serious health risks associated with its use, there are still many commercial buildings, structures and even homes that are still contaminated with this dangerous type of paint. Lead poisoning becomes a serious health concern to occupants of the building or structure when the paint starts peeling. When lead paint chips are noticed, the paint should be removed through a process such as lead abatement immediately, to ensure a lead safe area.
How to determine if you have a lead based paint? A process called lead testing. Now, how to test for lead based paint? There are three ways! A common process which is quick, easy and causes no damage to the surface is known as X-Ray fluorescence, or XRF. This process utilizes a handheld device which determines the amount of lead present. Another method involves analyzing the paint chips by sending them off to a laboratory, again to determine the amount of lead present. A testing method also exists only utilizing swabs which change color depending on the content of lead in the surface being tested. This last method is of course not as accurate as say sending chips to a lab for a full analysis, but it can help the owner of the building or structure determine whether or not they need to considering hiring a lead abatement contractor.
There are several ways your contractor can go about dealing with the problem of your lead based paint. One such method is the process of simply repainting in a lead safe manner. Repainting is common, cost-effective and simple. The only catch is that this process must be done in a method to ensure you don’t furthur contaminate the area. Plus there will still be lead underneath your new coating in the future. Encapsulation is another method, which is a process that involves applying a coating over the surfaces that are afflicted with lead paint, sealing it underneath the coating. Lead abatement is the only process of the three that actually does the job of removing the lead based paint from the surface of the structure or building permanently. This process
involves the complete removal of the lead based paint down to the bare surface by utilizing tools such as chemical strippers and HEPA vacuum attachments on power tools, or by sandblasting lead paint with the proper removal process following. This process may be the most expensive treatment, but is also the most thorough, as it is the only process which actually removes the dangerous hazard. Repainting or coating over the lead based paint may seal it efficiently, but the substance is still present under the surface of the new coating. Because lead abatement removes the substance completely, the dust or remnants must be disposed of properly. To ensure that this dangerous debris does not end up somewhere that may cause harm to the public, there are regulations in place that dictate what should be done with this debris, and this disposal process is just as important in proper lead abatement of any structure as the actual removal. It is also vital that the contractor performing the abatement or treatment follows lead safe work practices for their workers the occupants and the environment. .
If you’d like more information on proper lead abatement or would like a service completed, contact your local contractor. Readers on the east coast near NJ, NY, CT or PA can reach out to Alpine Painting and Sandblasting online at AlpinePainting.com or by phone at 866-596-0349.
By Dave Scaturro, Sales Director for Alpine Painting.