What You Need to Know about Lead Paint and Asbestos

July 15, 2014 / by / In

Your home should be your safe haven, free of any risks that could harm you or your family.  Sometimes, older homes contain building materials that have since been outlawed.  In their latent condition, these materials do not pose a risk. However, when remodeling, it is imperative to take care and properly remove and dispose of hazardous materials.

The two most common hazardous materials come in the form of lead paint and asbestos. Here we’ll take a look at the risks they pose and how a licensed contractor with the proper training can help you test for, remove, and dispose of these materials.

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What is Lead Paint and Asbestos? Asbestos is a naturally occurring, inorganic material that is found in many everyday products, especially in building materials and insulation. It was commonly used in homes built before 1978 in acoustical ceilings, plaster, drywall, pipe insulation, HVAC ducting, and floor tile.    

Asbestos is not harmful as long as it is undisturbed. When the asbestos is disturbed, microscopic fibers can become airborne and be inhaled. These inhaled fibers can cause scarring and inflammation, leading to lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other cancers. Asbestos is a known cancer-causing substance and must be removed by professionals.

Lead paint was used in homes built and remodeling before 1978 in order to increase paint durability, speed the drying process, and help the home be moisture-resistant. Unfortunately, lead-based paint affects children and adults and is the top environmental cause of illness in children. It can cause hearing loss, developmental disabilities, and seizures in children. In adults, lead poisoning can lead to nausea, irritability, and tiredness.

What to Do if These Substances are in Your Home

Licensed home improvement contractors in California are required by law to properly educate homeowners about asbestos and lead. Contractors are allowed to collect samples and have a third party independent laboratory test any materials in question for asbestos or lead.  If the materials are over the legal limit, a licensed remediation contractor must handle the removal under containment and dispose of the asbestos or lead at an approved dump site before any other work can be done.

For more information on asbestos and lead laws, visit the Environmental Protection Agency website.


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