If your home was built before 1978 and you still have the original windows, it’s time to seriously consider replacing your windows — especially if you have young children or a pregnant person living at home. During National Poison Prevention Week — March 20-26, 2011 — homeowners are urged to evaluate their windows and make healthy living changes.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the routine opening and closing of windows in homes built prior to 1978 can disturb lead-based paint around the windows, causing paint dust and chips to be released into the air. These lead particles are so potentially dangerous that the EPA now requires contractors to be trained and certified before they can perform any renovation, repair or painting projects that may have previously applied lead-based paint.
“Research indicates that the everyday activity of opening and closing windows creates friction that then allows invisible lead dust to enter the air,” says Rick Nevin, a consultant to the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH). “Young children, who crawl on the floor where the lead dust has settled, can be especially at risk. Toddlers put their hands in their mouths … and after playing on the floor near a window, they can easily transfer the lead dust into their mouths. The ingested lead travels through the bloodstream to a child’s developing brain, causing many types of neurobehavioral damage.”
According to Nevin, one of the most important long-term investments a homeowner can make for the overall safety of a family is to replace older windows, using the EPA-approved lead safe renovation guidelines. “Replacing older windows is one of the best ways to reduce lead risks,” says Nevin. “Make sure to use only a contractor that is certified in lead-safe work practices and strongly consider the use of ENERGY STAR® qualified windows, like the vinyl replacement windows offered by Simonton Windows®. These windows are a healthy choice for replacing older single-pane units. They’re energy-efficient and a good value for the investment.”
“At Simonton, we advocate that replacing older windows coated with lead-based paint with vinyl windows is a sensible step for homeowners who want to create a healthier home environment,” says Gary Pember with Simonton Windows. “We believe Rick’s research substantiates the replacement of all windows coated with lead based paint as a way to dramatically help reduce lead dust within that home.”
Nevin explains that, according to his research funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), homeowners need to understand there are four key steps to completing a “lead-safe window replacement strategy” for the home. “First, they advise replacing all single-pane windows with ENERGY STAR qualified windows,” says Nevin. “Second, stabilize any significantly deteriorated paint. Third, perform specialized cleaning to remove any lead-contaminated dust. And finally, perform dust wipe tests to confirm the absence of lead dust hazards after the clean up.” Research results can be obtained at www.ricknevin.com/windows.
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