woman scraping wallpaper off

My house was built in 1972, and I’ve never considered it old. I knew that it had aluminum wiring when we bought it in 2003, though I didn’t realize how dangerous that was. I’ve since had that fixed.

What I didn’t know until recently is that many houses built before 1978 in the U.S. used lead paint. Lead paint, if disturbed, can be extremely dangerous to young kids. It can cause damage to the brain and developing nervous system as well as slowed growth, hearing problems, and more. My twins were 4 when we moved in, so had I realized, I would have been concerned.

Of course, I didn’t think about this back in August, when I removed the peeling wallpaper from my kids’ bathroom walls and repainted them. I didn’t see any paint dust stirred up by my actions, and we cleaned up well afterwards, but I’m glad my kids were at their uncle’s in Florida at the time.

Lead paint that’s in good condition is usually not a hazard, but if it’s disturbed through repairs, renovation or painting, the ensuing chips and dust can cause problems. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) passed new rules effective April 2010 that require contractors to follow lead-safety work practices in homes, schools and childcare centers built before 1978. Though homeowners don’t have to adhere to these rules when working on their own homes, it’s wise to follow them to keep their families safe. You can be sure that my next home improvement project will be done with the EPA’s guidelines in mind.

October 24-30 is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.  You can help get the word out with  these  posters, e-cards and more.  If you’re planning to have work done on your house, download a copy of the EPA’s booklet, the Lead-Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right.

P.S. Don’t forget, tomorrow is the last day to submit for the GovGab Guest Writer Challenge! You can find the complete rules and how to submit your entry at Challenge.gov.