(ANGIE'S LIST) - Experts are urging caution for anyone planning to paint, renovate or strip any wood inside your home because of the possibility of lead paint.
Lead Poisoning Prevention Week runs Oct 25 through Oct. 31, and if you live in a house built before 1978, your house could be impacted.
Before renovating, homes should be tested for lead. If it is found, experts say it is very important to safely remove lead paint.
"More than 40 million houses in the United States have lead paint," Angie Hicks of Angie's List says. "And it's really important if you have small children to be very careful when you're remodeling because you do not want to end up with lead paint poisoning."
Ingesting lead paint chips or breathing in lead dust can lead to lifelong problems for young children. For children under the age of six, there can be learning disabilities, nervous system problems, and even brain damage.
Greg Sauer, is a Lead-certified program instructor. He says just a little lead dust, can do a lot of damage.
"If you took this much lead dust and you spread it over a 1,500 square-foot home, that house would be contaminated," Sauer says.
In order to remove it, you must find a contractor who is certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in safe lead practices, and ask specific questions about the removal process.
Sauer says it's crucial that your painter or remodeler use "plastic" d rop cloths, not canvas ones, and a HEPA vacuum for clean-up. And while the paint may be the main culprit, it's not the only one.
"We think of lead-based paint as the colors on the walls, but that's not true," he says. "It's also in the lacquers, the varnishes, the shellacs, the floor coverings. Those all have lead in them as well."
Thanks to the EPA's Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule of 2010, it's illegal for any contractor to disturb lead paint without first acquiring lead-safe certification.
To find a national list of certified contractors on the agency's web site, go to www.epa.gov.