Lead Paint Safety for Families and DIYers

Posted by: on October 22nd, 2012 | 4 Comments
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Applying paint safely

We fawn over historic homes just as much as the next person. The high ceilings. The beautiful crown moulding. The grand staircases. But if your home was built before 1978, there’s a good chance that it contains lead-based paint, and that’s why lead paint safety is so important.

If these homes are not maintained and renovated properly, pets, workers and residents of the home—particularly children—are in danger. Paint chips and dust from deteriorating paint can cause dangerous levels of lead—and just a small amount can affect a kid. Shockingly, the EPA estimates that 1 million children are affected by lead poisoning today.

But this problem is totally preventable, which is why The Home Depot stands in support of Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, from Oct. 21 to 28, 2012.

Here are five steps you can take to keep your family safe … in your historic Victorian or handsome Brooklyn brownstone, or any home that might have lead paint that could harm your family.

1. Use this Home Danger Zone Finder to know what areas of the home to check out.  Lead dust can be created when painted surfaces rub together, like when windows, doors or drawers are opened and closed. Look around hinges, window frames and painted drawers in particular.

2. Lead dust from exterior paint can also be brought inside. Check the exterior of your home, including porches and fences, for flaking and deteriorating paint that might be lead-based.

3. Get a certified lead inspector to test your home if it was built before 1978. You can get either a paint inspection, which tells you the lead content of every type of paint in your home, or a risk assessment, which will also address the actions you need to take to correct any problems identified.

4. Have a certified lead-based paint professional do any renovation or painting in your home. In 2008, the EPA issued a rule about lead-safe work practices for all contractors and companies doing work on homes built before 1978. But don’t assume that your contractor already knows the deal. Check in to be sure all the proper procedures, like using HEPA-certified vacuums, are being followed.

5. If you are taking on a DIY project yourself, be smart. Avoid extensive dry scraping or sanding. This can create extensive chipping, dust and debris that is difficult to contain or clean up. Simple things, like moving all furniture and misting surfaces before scraping and sanding, can keep your project safe. Check out this guide for the DIYer from the EPA before embarking on any renovation project in the home that might involve removing lead paint.

The Home Depot carries several products designed to help detect and mitigate lead paint problems.

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  1. [...] Lead Paint Safety for Families and DIYers (ext.homedepot.com) [...]

  2. Molly P says:

    Lead dust can be cleaned up with a phosphorous based soap. The phosphorous causes the lead to kling to it. (Cascade) A wet wash method of cleaning is the best method. (You clean the area repeatedly rinsing your rag and changing water often.) You can also seal the area as long as it is not an abrasive surface. If it is a wall and you paint over it- you are encapsulating it- no lead dust can escape from under the new paint. Windows and doors that have lead paint must be replaced. You cannot paint over them.
    The pipes are also a problem. Anytime you use any of the water in an older home (unless all of the pipes have been replaced- doubtful) Let the water run for a little while. If the water has been sitting in the pipes the lead has leached into it.
    If there is lead paint on the exterior and it has started to chip and lay in the soil- do not plant any fruit bearing plants there. The lead will be absorbed into the plant by the roots and will be in the fruit produced by the plant. (for example: tomato plants, pepper plants etc)

    Keep all small children away from the work area and your clothes once you take them off. The dust is so fine- I cannot stress it enough. A small growing body that takes in lead dust thinks the lead is calcium and sends it to the bones. I cannot begin to tell you how long it takes to be lead free after you have it. Serious learning disabilities will occur for even a little bit.

    • Craig Allen says:

      Those are some terrific tips, Molly P. Thank you for commenting.

      I get the impression you often handle projects that involve mitigating lead paint. Yes? You know so much about the problem.

      -Craig, from The Home Depot

  3. [...] Week by the Center for Disease Control. This week-long event is the perfect way to make sure your Atlanta building is free of lead paint in order to prevent any health hazards. In order to help get you started participating in this [...]