Myth #1: Lead paint is not used anymore.
Unfortunately lead paint is commonly sold in stores in at least 45 countries around the world, despite the overwhelming evidence that it harms both children and adults. Lead paint is also used for hundreds of so-called “industrial” applications often on metal surfaces and is sometimes found on imported products in the U.S. You can hire a local home inspector to determine if you have lead paint on your home surfaces.
Myth #2: There are regulations in place banning the use of lead paint.
Very few countries have completely banned all uses of lead paint and even in the U.S., Canada and Europe it is legal to use “industrial” lead paints for many applications. A few countries including the Philippines have regulated the lead content of both residential and industrial paints. In Europe regulators are trying to ban paint ingredients containing lead on a chemical-by-chemical basis and have banned the use of lead chromate pigments. Efforts to restrict the use of lead paint date back to the 1920’s, but it was not banned for residential use in the U.S. until 1978.
Myth #3: Lead paint in homes and schools is not a big problem as you can easily remove it.
It is difficult to safely remove lead paint as sanding, scraping, torching, or power sanding can release lead dust, expose workers, and contaminate the building and surrounding area. The use of dangerous solvents including methylene chloride can poison workers and also leave behind significant contamination. If not performed correctly by trained crews, the removal of lead paint can create a more hazardous environment and result in higher exposures to building occupants. Often the best way to abate lead paint is to remove and replace building components.
Myth #4: Lead paint is only a problem when it is damaged or deteriorated.
Although deteriorated lead paint is a problem, even normal weathering of lead paints on exterior surfaces contributes to lead contamination of soil, exterior dust, water and air. National surveys in the U.S. have shown that homes with only intact lead paint have more lead dust than homes without any lead paint.
Myth #5: Only residential paint is a problem, as children don’t get exposed to industrial paints.
Both children and adults are exposed to lead paint so-called “industrial” applications used on roads, highways, steel structures, industrial buildings, automobiles and other vehicles, and farm equipment. Exposures result when these paints deteriorate and contribute to dust and soil contamination, or when the paint is removed during routine maintenance. In addition, workers are exposed to lead during construction and repainting and often take home lead dust on their hands, hair, shoes, cars and clothes. Many cases of childhood lead poisoning can be attributed to “take home” lead exposures from these sources. Furthermore, industrial paints can be applied to homes, schools, or consumer products.
Myth #6: Lead paint only impacts children’s health.
Adults are also over exposed to lead in the course of applying, disturbing and removing lead paint. These exposures can be very significant and dozens of studies have documented the increase in workers’ blood lead levels from these sources. Lead causes many adverse health effects in adults and even low levels are linked to elevated blood pressure, associated with at least 674,000 deaths per year globally. Even so-called “low” levels in pregnant women result in reduced fetal growth and lower birth weight.
Myth #7: Lead paint is only a problem when it is damaged or deteriorated.
Although deteriorated lead paint is a problem, even normal weathering of lead paints on exterior surfaces contributes to lead contamination of soil, exterior dust, water and air. National surveys in the U.S. have shown that homes with only intact lead paint have more lead dust than homes without any lead paint. Be sure to hire a licensed home inspector before purchasing a home with lead paint.