Madison has a diverse mix of newer home builds, historic homes, and everything in between. Asbestos and lead paint were commonly used in thousands of homes before the 1980s. Both products can have severe impacts on your health. When house hunting it’s important to know what to look for to avoid purchasing a home with these hazards. 

Understanding Lead Paint

Lead paint was a popular product until it was banned in 1978. It was known for its quick drying times and durability. Lead paint maintained a fresh appearance and could resist moisture. It was an affordable option, had a rich color, and was easy to wash.

But terrible health problems can arise from ingesting or inhaling lead. It can damage the nervous system, lead to developmental issues in children, and cause organ failure.

You may be thinking “Who would ever eat paint?” But accidental ingestion was a big problem. Tiny lead dust particles coated food, dishware, toothbrushes, and more.

Lead paint can be found in art as early as the 4th century B.C. But its peak use was in America in the early 19th century. It didn’t become a fully banned product until 1978. Most homes built before this time contain some traces of lead.

Methods for Identifying Lead Paint 

Be sure to check for lead paint in every part of the home, including often forgotten spaces like closets, basements, baseboards, or sheds. Wear proper PPE gear to protect yourself during the inspection.

Visual inspection 

Peeling or chipping paint is a red flag for lead paint. A telltale sign is “alligatoring” when paint takes a scaly appearance when the layers begin to crack or wrinkle. You can also check to see if the paint creates a chalky residue when it rubs off. 

Lead testing kits

It’s common for there to be several coats of paint on top of the lead layer. In this case, you may not be able to identify the lead visually. Luckily, you can pick up a testing kit from the hardware store for under $20. 

Professional inspection

If you don’t want to put yourself at a higher risk you can also hire a professional inspection. When hiring a professional, make sure they are qualified to administer one of three EPA-approved tests. 

What should I do if I find lead paint in my home?

If your home tests positive for lead you should take care of it as soon as possible. Vacating the home immediately is the safest course of action, but we understand that may not be an option for everyone. Hire a qualified crew to replace lead paint on interior walls. 

Understanding Asbestos 

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs naturally in rock and soil. It’s an excellent insulator and highly fire retardant. These properties made it a very popular building material. Asbestos was used to create roofing shingles, floor tiles, and wallpaper. It was also commonly used in manufacturing car parts, but since cars have a shorter lifespan than homes, this isn’t a lingering concern.

Cancerous asbestos fibers can be released into the air when disturbed. They are released during demolition work, home maintenance, repair, and remodeling.

The three major health concerns associated with asbestos are:

  1. Lung cancer
  2. Mesothelioma– a rare form of cancer that’s found in the lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen, and heart.
  3. Asbestosis– a serious, progressive, non-cancerous, lung disease.

Methods for Identifying Asbestos 

Asbestos fibers are invisible to the naked eye and cannot be identified visually. The only way to know for certain is to have samples analyzed by a qualified lab. But if the material is sturdy it’s likely to stay that way. The EPA recommends not collecting samples for testing unless:

  • You’re planning a repair, remodel, or renovation
  • You discover damaged or degrading material

Many retailers sell asbestos test kits for homeowners. But the EPA strongly encourages the use of a trained professional. The Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics states “It’s important that homeowners do not attempt this themselves, since hazardous fibers can be released if sampling is done incorrectly”.

Use this EPA- created list to find a qualified asbestos inspector in Wisconsin. 

Your home should be a safe pace

Health hazards like asbestos and lead paint are non-negotiables. A quality real estate agent will always be protective of their client in this way. This is just one of the many reasons it’s important to have a trusted agent by your side during the house-hunting process. The Hub Realty team always protects their client’s best interests. Get in touch with us today.