Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lead Paint

The potential of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to stimulate the field of historic preservation is found on many levels- from first time homebuyers contracting home improvements and renovations, to stimulus money provided for energy efficiency projects greening historic buildings, to road and bridge modernization projects generating additional surveys and studies to comply with Section 106 of the Historic Preservation Act. Additionally, a recent article posted on msnbc.com reported that federal stimulus money has been made available to help prevent lead poisoning by encouraging lead abatement in homes. As well as creating safer living environments, this money is expected to create new jobs and, being that lead paint was commonly used until it was banned in 1978, could provide additional opportunities for historic preservationists.

While the hazards of lead paint should not be taken lightly, a trained preservationist can develop a custom plan to minimize the threat caused by lead paint and still preserve the historic integrity of the building. This involves assessing the painted surfaces in the least invasive way and finding the best and safest way to address issues with as little detriment to historic detail as possible.

Common issue:

One of the most important architectural elements of a building is its windows, yet dangerous dust can be created by the friction caused from opening and closing windows painted with lead paint. In this case, should historic windows be removed all together and newer, safer windows installed?

Where to find answers:

The National Park Service’s Preservation Brief #37 addresses lead paint hazards and historic buildings. Preservation Briefs are an excellent source for technical preservation information and can be found on the National Park Service website here: Preservation Briefs


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