Among the biggest concerns is lead, which can pose a risk inside any home built prior to 1978. Until 1977, lead was often added to interior paint to make it more brilliant, durable and moisture-resistant. It can be present at exceptionally high levels in paints used before the 1960s. It was also added at high levels to outdoor paint until 1992.
Homes first built in the 1930s and earlier may have accumulated over 200 kilograms of lead, which poses little threat if undisturbed. However, replacing old windows or drilling into walls to blow in insulation, for example, can contaminate the house with lead dust, which is especially dangerous for babies and young children, who tend to crawl on the floor and put their hands and other objects in their mouths.
Surprisingly, according to a survey of Canadian auditors and renovators and contractors done for the report, while 93% talk about some environmental health issues with their clients, just one in six (16%) raise lead as a concern.
And, even though the Canadian federal government's public information urges homeowners to be careful, potential exposure to lead from paint is not covered in federal training of energy auditors, who are unlikely to point it out. Only 7.1% of energy professionals surveyed report screening or testing for lead.
The US Environmental Protection Agency, on the other hand, requires contractors to be lead-safe certified if they are doing renovation, repair or painting in pre-1978 homes, child care facilities and schools. The US and France are among very few countries known by medical experts to have created mandatory precautions or other
|Contact: Terry Collins|
Canadian Environmental Law Association