What is lead paint?
Lead is a heavy metal that was used in paints for many years because it improved the performance and quality of the paints. Unfortunately lead is also toxic to people and pets; especially at risk are young children and babies.
Why is lead paint a problem?
Lead paint contains lead which is toxic to humans and animals. The most common way to become exposed to lead is from paint which is peeling or flaking. A general misconception is that you have to eat paint in order to be exposed to the lead. The truth is that paint which is flaking or peeling actually causes dust to be generated when it delaminates from the surface. This dust is too small to see with your eye, and too small to be picked up by normal cleaning methods (sweeping and vacuuming can actually spread more lead dust).
While some children do eat paint chips, the majority of lead exposure is the dust which you cannot see; both adults and children breathe and ingest this dust during normal household activities. Floors are the places where most of this dust is, and so especially at risk are children who often put their hands on the floor and in their mouth.
Renovation work can also cause a large amount of lead dust to be generated. Without taking precautions to prevent the spread of this dust and cleaning it up properly, lead dust can be left all over a house after a small renovation. Along with remodeling activities and painting, window replacement can cause a large amount of this lead dust to be left behind after the job is done. If a contractor or home owner does not take the proper measures, the dust can be left behind for many years!