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  • Writer's pictureJacqueline Loiacono

Lead Paint and What to do About it

"Be the moon and inspire people, even when you're far from full."- K. Tolnoe I found this quote to be exactly what I needed to hear today. Not being able to create has me feeling quite empty. However, it's ironic that I'm creating life inside me and am far from empty. Although my energy is waning, I was able to check-in on these shutters at my shop recently, even though I did not like what I found out...

These gorgeous crescent moon shutters (pictured above) caught my eye early this Spring. Brian and I saw them when we went to our first flea market of the season, my favorite, The Elephant Trunk Flea Market in New Milford, CT. Little did I know these beauties had lead paint. We were on the hunt looking for an antique dresser for Baby Vienna's Nursery Nook for the One Room Challenge, when we came across these green crescent moon cutouts. I of course made a beeline for them, not knowing what I would use them for but couldn't pass them up. We got the pair of them for 20 dollars and Brian had the idea of using them on the closet door frame (sort of like saloon doors). By removing the closet door, it created more open space for the nursery nook and I thought his idea was brilliant. We were able to put our dresser closer to the closet as it would become a changing table for the baby. It never crossed my mind that these shutters might have been old enough to have lead paint on them until most recently this past month.

I had been watching Molly's stories from @thehonesthome on Instagram and she was about to refurbish an antique door. She had tested it for lead paint after beginning to sand it. Since the test was positive for lead, she had to throw it away and remediate her yard where her girls play. It dawned on me, that I never checked for lead when getting my antique furniture. I would've probably never thought it was a big deal if I wasn't pregnant, but I had also worked on them a couple a months ago in my early stages of pregnancy. Of course I wore a mask when stripping and sanding them but I was nervous to have possibly inhaled any lead particles that could affect my unborn baby.

I bought a lead paint testing kit on amazon to see if the shutters were positive. When I saw that swab turn bright violet, I was truly disappointed. (The violet color on the color continuum indicates lead whereas the lighter yellow/beige color you also see pictured below, I had tested on another piece of furniture and indicated no lead was present). I loved those shutters and after discussing it with my husband, the risks outweighed the rewards to keep working on them, so we decided to throw them away. Since finding out, I had a lead blood test just to check, and thankfully, everything came back negative. I've done a lot of research the past couple of weeks on lead and wanted to share my findings so that no one else makes the same mistake I did. *Thankfully, I stripped them with Citristrip paint stripper which in itself, actually encapsulates any lead so by using that product before I sanded them was actually a good thing.

There are a few ways you would be inclined to test for lead in your home (the many layers of green paint on those shutters should've been a tip off for me) as well as some of it peeling off. Here are a few ways to tell if you should test for lead:

  • Any peeling, cracking or crumbling paint

  • Layers of paint

  • Anything built or painted before 1978 has a likely chance of having lead

  • Anything painted before 1950 is reasonable to assume lead paint

When checking for lead paint in a home built before those years you may want to check places like doorframes, doors, cabinets, windows, exterior walls, porches and decks, fences, gates and gutters. It is important to remember that anywhere lead is present and has been tracked into a garden or where children are active should be taken into consideration. The lead paint that was removed or scraped can be brought inside on shoes from which the soil was contaminated.

(For more on lead paint and analysis, I found this helpful company from Oregon called JSE Labs Inc that does analysis of lead materials for surrounding areas. We may not live in OR, but the information is very helpful).

There are many ways to remediate lead in homes or furniture safely on your own if you do not want to use a professional. ***As always...make sure to have your hands, mouth, nose and eyes covered when disturbing lead paint because of the dust particles in the air.

There are products like INSL-X Interior/Exterior Lead Block paint that is a primer paint used to encapsulate the lead paint in order to paint over it - (list of top ten best primers for lead paint)

Pro Solutions Direct Website also has a product by Fiberlock that is specifically designed to clean up dust leftover from lead abatement projects, construction or renovations where it can be rinsed away safely. *Please do your research and/or consult with a professional before removing/encapsulating any lead paint on your own. The health risks associated with lead paint are anemia, weakness, kidney or brain damage in children and adults. In kids it can cause slowed growth and development, learning and behavior problems as well as hearing and speech problems.

Now that I know more about the possibility of lead in my line of work sourcing and refurbishing antiques, I can take the proper precautions to keep safe and also choose projects that will be less likely to have lead paint.

I am proud to be a lifelong learner and seek the knowledge I need to help me grow and move forward in life.. As I quoted before, "Be the moon and inspire people, even when you're far from full." It seems that just like the moon, we are forever changing in cycles. My current cycle is close to being over, but not before I become super full again <3


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