Prior to 1978, lead based paint was used on interior and exterior building walls. Once lead paint begins to deteriorate, it becomes harmful. The paint can flake and lead dust can accumulate on window ledges and floors and then be transferred by shoes, brooms, etc. This dust can be inhaled or ingested, especially by children. Any demolition or remodeling of older buildings should be inspected by a qualified Commercial Inspector to determine whether the building is safe and free of lead.
Lead poisoning is not only a problem in children, however it is worse for children less than six because they can absorb more lead into their system and they are more likely to ingest lead by putting hands or toys into their mouths. The health effects of lead exposure in children include brain, nervous system and kidney damage, stunted growth, poor muscle coordination, headaches and hyperactivity. In adults the effects are high blood pressure, infertility, anemia, muscle and joint pain, memory and concentration problems and nerve disorders. Unborn children are at great risk if a pregnant woman is exposed. Soil can also become contaminated when lead paint on exteriors deteriorates.
A trained specialist should be hired to remove lead paint from your structure. In the meantime there are a few things you should do to decrease your chance of exposure. Clean dust and paint chips off windows sills and floors regularly. Paint regular paint over surfaces to contain the chipping lead paint temporarily. Plant grass into soil to help contain the contamination. Always vacuum with a HEPA filter equipped vacuum.