Where lead can be found in buildings:
- Sheeting for acoustic insulation
- Radiation shielding
- Masonry plugs for fasteners
- Glazes and ceramics
- Pointing mortar
- Lead pipe and solder
- Residue present in firing ranges, soldering
- Batteries in alarm and telecom systems
Lead is added to paint to speed up drying, increase durability, maintain a fresh appearance, and resist moisture that causes corrosion. It is one of the main health and environmental hazards associated with paint. In some countries, lead continues to be added to paint intended for domestic use,whereas countries such as the U.S. and the U.K. have regulations prohibiting this, although lead paint may still be found in older properties painted prior to the introduction of such regulations. Although lead has been banned from household paints in the United States since 1978, paint used in road markings may still contain it. Alternatives such as water-based, lead-free traffic paint are readily available, and many states and federal agencies have changed their purchasing contracts to buy these instead.
- Regulations – Lead
- Federal Regulations define lead based paints as paint containing more than 0.5% lead
- WorkSafe guidelines state that: removal of paint with a lead concentration as low as 0.06% by aggressive techniques can approach the occupational exposure limit
- Prior to disposal at a landfill all lead-painted materials must be tested for leachability. (N.B. Local Practices)
- All other lead products should be recycled.
Paints manufactured up to 2006 often contain heavy metals as pigments and/or preservatives. Under specific circumstances, persons may be exposed to these metals by ingestion, skin absorption and/or inhalation. We can perform a hazmat survey to identify hazardous materials in your home or business.
Most buildings built before 1950 have had lead-based paint applied to the interior or exterior surfaces. Often lead paint of this era contained up to 40% lead by weight. Paints made between 1950 and 1978 usually contained smaller amounts of lead. Paints often contain other heavy metals including mercury, arsenic and chromium.
In Canada, regulations were first enacted under the Hazardous Products Act in 1976 that limited lead content of paints and other liquid coatings on furniture, household products, children’s products, and exterior and interior surfaces of any building frequented by children to 0.5% by weight. New regulations on surface coating materials, which came into force in 2005, further limit lead to its background level for both interior and exterior paints sold to consumers. Canadian paint manufacturers have been conforming to this background level in their interior and exterior consumer paints since 1991. Nevertheless, a Canadian company, Dominion Colour Corporation, is “the largest manufacturer of lead-based paint pigments in the world” and has faced public criticism for continuing to export paints to countries where its uses are not tightly regulated.
The United States’ Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned lead paint in 1977 in residential properties and public buildings (16 Code of Federal Regulations 1303), along with toys and furniture containing lead paint. The cited reason was “to reduce the risk of lead poisoning in children who may ingest paint chips or peelings.” For manufacturers, the CPSC instituted the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which changed the cap on lead content in paint from 0.06% to 0.009% starting August 14, 2009.
In April of 2010 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency required that all renovators working in homes built before 1978 and disturbing more than six square feet of lead paint inside the home or 20 square feet outside the home be certified. EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule) lower the risk of lead contamination from home renovation activities. It requires that firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities and pre-schools (any child occupied facility) built before 1978 be certified by EPA and use certified renovators who are trained by EPA-approved training providers to follow lead-safe work practices.
Read about lead and asbestos removal.