Question from Karren: We now know that lead causes serious health problems and that’s why the government outlawed its use in paint.
But my question is why was lead ever added to paint in the first place? What was the reason for adding it?
Rick’s answer: Karren, you’re right that lead causes all kinds of serious health issues. And unfortunately it tends to affect kids the most.
You’re also right that the government has banned the use of lead-based paint – but not completely.
For example, much of the paint that’s used to paint lines and markings on pavement still contains lead.
1 – Different chemical compositions of lead create different colors when added to paint.
Therefore, lead was added to paint as a cheap and reliable way to add pigment (colors) to it.
2 – Lead makes paint dry faster after it’s applied to a surface.
That helped the painters get the job done faster and allowed the owners to begin using the building sooner.
3 – Lead-based paint increases the durability of a paint job and makes the paint look fresh longer than unleaded paint.
4 – Lead-based paint resists moisture and corrosion better than non-leaded paint.
As you can see, there are many advantages to using lead-based paint.
Unfortunately, all of those advantages are far outweighed by the its one huge disadvantage: Lead causes serious health issues for anyone who comes into contact with it.
Of course the risk is very low when lead-based paint is used for some applications (the aforementioned road paint, for example). That’s why the government still allows its use in some some situations.
By the way, if your house or apartment was last painted some time prior to 1978, the paint inside it still contains lead.
That means if you ever decide to renovate your home or do pretty much anything that will disturb the paint you should probably hire a pro to safely remove the old lead-based paint for you.
That being said, it is possible to safely remove lead-based paint yourself. The short video below shows how.
Note: As always, you can watch the video at full screen by clicking the “square” icon that will pop up in the lower-right corner of the video after it begins playing.