Before the 1970s, household paint often contained lead. As lead paint ages, it can chip or crumble into dust. Exposure to lead-paint dust or chips can cause serious health problems. Children and pregnant women are at higher risk. So, if you live in or own an older home, you need to know how to protect yourself and others.
There are many ways to reduce the hazards of lead-based paint — but SOME METHODS OF REMOVING PAINT ACTUALLY INCREASE THE RISK OF LEAD EXPOSURE. It’s important to pick the safest method for your project; the goal is to reduce the hazards while creating as little lead dust as possible.
If lead paint on ceilings and walls is in good repair, then painting them or covering them with wallpaper may be all that is needed to keep the lead paint in place.
BUT —if lead paint is chipping or peeling, or if it’s on a surface such as a windowsill or stair rail where children can chew on it, then the lead paint (or the painted material) should be removed or covered. Painted surfaces that rub on each other, such as doors and windows, require special attention to stop the friction. And if the paint has been damaged by other problems, such as water damage due to leaks, then the underlying problem should be fixed first.
BE CAREFUL! During the work, you might stir up dust or create fumes containing lead. This can be very dangerous for adults, children and pets. Always use a method that creates the least amount of dust and fumes.
You should consider hiring a professional contractor with experience in working safely with lead removal. Whether you’re going to do the job yourself or hire somebody, it’s YOUR responsibility to see that the job is done safely.
One way of reducing exposure to lead paint is to cover the surface with a new surface — by putting up drywall or by covering windowsills with vinyl or aluminum, for example. This doesn’t require the removal of the lead paint, so this is often the easiest solution. But if the new surface is ever removed or damaged, the lead problem returns. Materials used to enclose lead-painted surfaces should be durable and fire resistant, such as gypsum board, aluminum, vinyl, plywood paneling, laminates, acrylic sheets, plexiglas, fiberglass, or tile.
What you should know about lead testing… Children who may have been exposed to lead-based paint should have a blood test to see if they have elevated blood levels. All children one and two years of age, or who may have been exposed, should be tested. Other children under six years of age, or who may have been exposed, should be tested if their doctors think they are at risk.
Encapsulation is a technique that bonds materials to the existing painted surface; it’s more than just a coat of paint, in that the encapsulant is bonded to the lead paint. It is important to follow product instructions exactly to be sure that a strong, long lasting bond is created.
This might be a good time to think about replacement. Sometimes it’s easier to replace windows, doors, or woodwork than it is to remove lead-based paint.
There are several ways to remove lead-based paints:
The following methods of paint removal are hazardous and in some communities illegal, and should NOT be used:
Exterior work should be done on calm days, and wet-misting or vacuuming should be used to control lead dust and paint chips during removal. The ground around the building should be protected with heavy (6-mil) plastic sheets. The outer edges of the sheeting should be raised to trap dust, debris, and liquid wastes. Wastes should be disposed of properly, as described below.
Lead removal will generate lead dust and debris. Unless the house is properly cleaned, it will be more hazardous after the work than it was before!
Everyday, the debris should be misted with water, swept up and placed in double 4-mil or 6- mil plastic bags. Then all surfaces should be wet-dusted and wet-mopped. This step is very important.
A HEPA-equipped vacuum should be used on all surfaces (floors, walls, ceilings, woodwork, carpeting, furniture). DO NOT use a standard household vacuum or shop vacuum, which are not designed or equipped to trap lead dust particles. Then wet-mop hardwood surfaces with a solution containing a heavy-duty household cleaner (automatic dishwasher detergent or a lead-specific detergent). The wet-mopping should be followed by another HEPA vacuuming.
Old rugs and carpets should be replaced, if possible; and all furniture, bedding, rugs, carpets, drapes, etc., that were removed prior to work should be cleaned before being brought back in.
Debris from lead-based paint removal or renovation may be double-bagged and disposed of in limited quantities in household trash. Lead debris must never be burned. Liquid wastes, including wash water, must never be dumped onto the ground; waste water should be filtered through a cloth filter before dumping into a sanitary sewer or toilet. The filtered debris can go out with the other trash. The mops and cloths used to clean up lead dust and debris should never be used for any other purpose, and should be disposed of when the job is done.
It is safest not to undertake lead removal on your own. Contact your local health department for additional information or for help in identifying qualified contractors experienced in lead removal.
For more information about getting the right materials for your clean-up, please visit our online catalogue.
Original Source: New York State Health Department