Re: I'm going crazy thinking about the lead paint in my house
"Everything in moderation," as they say.
The thing to keep in mind is that most studies that link common things to health risks generally only prove a link when there is high concentrations of the stuff in question. Asbestos, mercury, lead, PCBs, Benzene, Bisphenol-A, etc. all have proven health risks, but only those people who have been exposed to them in high concentration have developed health problems. These are people who work with them every day, in their mining, manufacture, and disposal. Of the people who died on one of the South Pole expeditions (was it the Scott expedition?), it's been determined that the cause of death was lead poisoning from food sealed in cans soldered with lead. Among Japanese, it was discovered there was an abnormal rate of birth defects among the children of people who ate fish taken from a mercury-contaminated body of water.
Like a previous poster suggested, ice poses a more immediate danger yet we don't regulate it; the difference is that we as a society fully understand the risk of ice exposure but we don't fully understand the risk of lead exposure. Since we have a psychological propensity to fear that which we don't understand, we overreact at the mere suggestion of risk.
For the rest of us, occasional environmental exposure to carcinogens is unlikely to cause cancer. This means that the lead paint that is securely attached to your walls is relatively safe, and precautions need to be taken only if and when you decide to remove it. Of course, you need to be prudent: don't create airborne dust by sanding, don't wash it down the creek, and don't let your kids chew on the windowsills.
Of course, I don't advocate putting lead back in paint (even though lead-based paint has superior bonding, color retention, and durability properties). Now that we know better, we shouldn't intentionally contaminate our environment. But we don't need to overreact and remove all traces of harmful stuff from our lives, because in the right form & place it isn't harmful, and in many cases the cost of action outweighs the cost of inaction.
The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.