Testing for Lead and
Due to their age, a significant number of residential, commercial and institutional buildings in the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor are rife with materials containing lead. This is true of most buildings built before 1960, when adding lead to paints was finally abolished.
After doctors on the East Coast of the U.S. discovered an alarmingly high level of lead in a 1-year old girl, warning bells were triggered. City officials sent an inspector to the 85-year old home where he found chipping, toxic lead paint around all the windows.
This was not an example of parental neglect; instead, it highlights a problem that persists in North American buildings.
With regular public health scares, such as in Flint, Michigan, lead poisoning will continue to be a hot-button issue—thus keeping the testing of lead relevant.
Who Is Lead Testing For?
Indoor lead paint was banned in Canada in 1960, so if you’re doing renovations inside a house built prior to that year, you’ll need lead testing.
However, until 1990, outdoor lead paint was still legal in Canada, so any renovations to the outside of an older building will require lead testing. This is especially true if you’re working as a sandblaster.
After Lead Testing, Can It Just Be Left Alone?
The answer depends on exposure. If the lead paint is away from children, and not chipping, it may be safer to leave it. Covering it with panelling or wallpaper will provide extra security.
If the paint is chipping or you’re renovating, then the answer is absolutely—yes. It is a significant health risk especially for children, whose bodies are still vulnerable while developing. Exposure can cause irreparable harm to the brain and nervous system.
When To Get Your Building Tested
The most likely time for lead exposure will occur during building renovations. Old paint gets sandblasted off the wall, and the lead dust (mixed with the irritating silica) can be highly toxic when inhaled.
You must get it tested if you’re doing construction in a building that was built before 1960.
Lead Exposure and Toxicity
The most common source of lead exposure is old, lead-based paint (and resulting dust), used in building construction before 1960.
Lead gets into the muscle and bones, devastating the nervous system; it is especially harmful to children because their bodies are still developing.
When Lead Is Found
Lead is a neurotoxin requiring either management or abatement.
Management usually just means that you monitor the situation, generally by painting over it and testing the area regularly.
If you decide to go the abatement route, we can recommend a certified abatement contractor to get you started.