Closing the window on lead paint


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If you think you’ve had just about all the lead paint news you can take, you’re most undoubtedly not alone. But before you hit the back button, consider this: With all of this talk about lead paint, have you given any thought to your windows?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as you open and close your windows (in homes built before 1978), you might be releasing paint dust and chips from the surrounding area into the air. Ingesting or breathing in this dust is harmful to everyone, particularly young children who can suffer from neurobehavioral damage.

“Research indicates that the everyday activity of opening and closing windows creates friction that then allows invisible lead dust to enter the air,” said Rick Nevin, a consultant to the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH). “Replacing older windows is one of the best ways to reduce lead risks,” Nevin said.

According to Nevin’s research — funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) —there are four steps to completing a “lead-safe window replacement strategy” for the home (make sure you find a reputable professional to complete these steps):

1. Replace single-pane windows with Energy Star-qualified windows;
2. Stabilize deteriorated paint;
3. Perform specialized cleaning to remove lead-contaminated dust; and
4. Complete dust wipe tests to verify the absence of lead dust hazards after the clean up.

The key, Nevin said, it to find a contractor who is certified in lead-safe work practices. He also urges homeowners to consider investing in Energy Star-qualified windows, such as energy-efficient, vinyl replacement windows.

Click here for Nevin’s research results.