In an age where internet blogs and DIY videos are popular, there comes an increased risk for harmful and uninformed decisions. Trying to save money on home improvement by doing a project yourself seems like the smart way to go with handy step-by-step tutorials strewn all over YouTube. Remodeling your own home that was built prior to 1978 without understanding the damages of lead paint and lead dust may lead to severe consequences.

DIY renovation can release toxic lead paint dust unknowingly.

DIY renovation can release toxic lead paint dust unknowingly.

Before 1978, interiors and exteriors of homes were finished with lead based paint, which can be extremely hazardous to not only small children, but everyone in the household, if not treated correctly. Remodeling, sanding and stripping often result in loose paint chips, or lead dust. Breathing in lead dust from any type of hammering, scraping, or demolition can cause serious health issues. Window installations can even cause lead paint debris, which is easily inhaled and resembles ordinary house dust. The seriousness of lead paint doesn’t come from the renovation itself, but from the residue after renovation, when the lead dust has settled on the furniture, walls and floors. Lead dust can be invisible to the human eye, and it takes a very small amount to have irreversible effects. Children are especially at risk during this time, as lead poisoning can lead to both physical, and mental impairments. From growth delays, to a loss in developmental skills, lead poisoning is a serious issue that should not be ignored.

I recently had the opportunity to go on-site to a home that was in need of lead paint remediation. The house had been built prior to 1978, and needed lead paint removal both on the interior and exterior of the building. The homeowners were not aware of this problem, until they began some remodeling on their own. Similar to many other homeowners, they were attempting to make alterations to help modernize their home. Unfortunately, their two-year old child was taken to the doctor’s office for an illness, and they discovered high levels of lead in the child’s system. Luckily, the damage to the child’s system was reversible and prompted the family to take action in de-leading their home.

New parents have many things to worry about- their child’s safety being at the top of that list. Making sure your home is a safe environment for both you and your children is extremely important. While at-home projects can be cost efficient, make sure your home is a safe, non-hazardous environment before being creative!

Helpful hint:  Be proactive! If you’re thinking about remodeling your home, especially if it was built prior to 1978, hire a certified lead inspector to do an assessment of your home. There are many in-home tests you can buy, but they may not always be reliable. For certainty, hire a professional.