Lead was added to paints right up until the 1980’s and was not completely banned in Australia until the early 1990’s. Unfortunately, if not handled correctly, it can be is unsafe, and therefore should only be removed by a licensed, experienced professional.
But, if it was banned over two decades ago, surely all that paint is gone by now? While you may be inclined to think this way, it is not often the case. Older buildings are often layered with many years of paint, which during the preparation process becomes exposed.
There are no surface markers to be able to tell lead based apart from modern day counterparts. There are, however, simple tests that can be conducted by professional, reputable painters as part of their pre-work safety checks.
A simple rule of thumb is, if a building was built in the 1980s or earlier, it is best to presume that it has been painted with lead-based paint.
We can breathe a sigh of relief, simply having lead paint on the walls is not enough to be dangerous. Should the paint be flaking or chipped, then it becomes a hazard. It is important to note that flakes and dust from old lead paint can be absorbed into the body through the skin, eyes, and mouth. Which is why all due care must be taken in its removal.
When assessing your schools’ options there are two methods that can be considered. First, there is encapsulation and secondly, removal may be considered.
Encapsulation is generally the preferred method, whereby the affected areas are enclosed to ensure that there is minimal disturbance and no further breakdown. There are options of plans to ensure that your school is maintained to a great standard. This brings more benefits than just having a great looking school. If schools are left neglected for extended periods of time, this can lead to the breakdown of building materials, creating a much higher maintenance cost in the long term.
Removal on the other hand, is a much more involved and lengthy process. There are special methods of preparing the area for the removal of paint containing lead. For a detailed explanation you can visit Worksafe VIC.
The most important part of the removal is containing as much of the paint flakes as possible, using a Fibre Containment System (FCS) for maximum safe containment. Preparation methods like Wet Stripping paint (not sanding) to prevent lead dust, are among many methods to prevent contamination. Each site is unique, which is why consulting and contracting the work to a professional is the best way to deal with lead paint in your school.
As qualified and experienced professionals, it is part of our process to conduct lead testing, at least on schools built prior to the 1980’s. If this isn’t being done and something occurs, WorkSafe can become involved and charges could be laid, along with the pain of having health affected.
Lead in paint is something you need to know about as an organisation, because this could influence your school if neglected. To discuss upgrading your school, and obtain an obligation free quote, contact our friendly team today!