Lead-Based Paint & Home Renovations

Lead Paint

Lead-based paint was used in more than 38 million homes and businesses until it was banned for residential use in 1978. Beginning in April 2010, EPA federal law will require contractors that disturb lead-based paint in homes, businesses, and schools to be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. This law will only apply to buildings which were constructed before 1978.

What Problems can Lead Cause?

  • Lead dust, which is often invisible, is the most common way people are exposed to lead. People can also get lead in their bodies from exposure to lead in soil or paint chips.
  • Lead can affect children’s brains and developing nervous systems, causing reduced IQ, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems.
  • May cause High blood pressure and hypertension in adults.

Should I be Concerned?

  • Do you reside in a home built before 1978?
  • Do you own or operate a child care facility, including preschools and kindergarten classrooms, built before 1978?
  • Do you have a child under six who attends a child care facility built before 1978?

There are other things you can do to protect your family every day.

  • Regularly clean floors, window sills, and other surfaces
  • Wash children’s hands, bottles, pacifiers, and toys often
  • Make sure children eat a healthy, nutritious diet consistent with the USDA’s dietary guidelines, which helps protect children from the effects of lead
  • Wipe off shoes before entering house

For additional information about the sources and hazards of lead, please visit http://www.epa.gov/lead/.

Where Does the Lead Come From?

The most common way to get lead in the body is from invisible dust. Lead dust comes from deteriorating lead-based paint and lead-contaminated soil that gets tracked into your home. This dust may accumulate to unsafe levels within the home. Then, normal hand to-mouth activities, like playing and eating (especially for young children), move that dust from surfaces like floors and window sills into the body.

Home renovation creates dust, especially in homes build before 1978. Common renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips.

Proper work practices can protect you from the dust. The key to protecting yourself and your family during a renovation, repair or painting job is to use lead-safe work practices such as containing dust inside the work area, using dust-minimizing work methods, and conducting a careful cleanup.

Remember, lead can also come from outside soil, deteriorating lead paint, your tap water, or household items (such as lead-glazed pottery and lead crystal). For additional information regarding the causes and sources of lead, please visit http://www.epa.gov/lead/.

Checking Your Home for Lead-Based Paint

Especially in older homes and buildings (pre-1978), you may simply want to assume lead-based paint is present and follow the lead-safe work practices during the renovation, repair, or painting job.

You may also test for lead using a lead test kit. Test kits must be EPA-approved and are available at hardware stores. They include detailed instructions for their use.

We recommend you hire a Window World certified professional to check for lead-based paint. These professionals are certified risk assessors or inspectors, and can determine if your home has lead or lead hazards.

A certified inspector or risk assessor can conduct an inspection telling you whether your home, or a portion of your home, has lead-based paint and where it is located. This will tell you the areas in your home where lead-safe work practices are needed. They can also conduct a risk assessment telling you if your home currently has any lead hazards from lead in paint, dust, or soil. The risk assessor can also tell you what actions to take to address any hazards.

Please contact Window World for help finding a certified risk assessor or lead inspector.

Preparing for a Lead Renovation

The work areas should not be accessible to occupants while the work occurs. The rooms or areas where work is being done may be blocked off or sealed with plastic sheeting to contain any dust that is generated. The contained area will not be available to you until the work in that room or area is complete, cleaned thoroughly, and the containment has been removed. You will not have access to some areas within your home, and you should plan accordingly.

You may need:

  • Alternative bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen arrangements if work is occurring in those areas of your home.
  • A safe place for pets because they too, can be poisoned by lead and can track lead dust into other areas of the home.
  • A separate pathway for the contractor from the work area to the outside, in order to bring materials in and out of the home. Ideally, it should not be through the same entrance that your family uses.
  • A place to store your furniture. All furniture and belongings may have to be moved from the work area while the work is done. Items that can’t be moved, such as cabinets, should be wrapped in heavy duty plastic.
  • To turn off forced-air heating and air conditioning systems while work is done. This prevents dust from spreading through vents from the work area to the rest of your home
  • For large scale projects, you may even want to move out of your home temporarily while all or parts of the work are being done.

During the Work

Before the renovation work is started, Window World professionals will follow the procedures described below:

  • Contain the work area. The area should be contained so that dust and debris do not escape from that area. Warning signs should be put up and heavy-duty plastic and tape should be used as appropriate to:
  • Cover the floors and any furniture that cannot be moved.
  • Seal off doors and heating and cooling system vents. These will help prevent dust or debris from getting outside the work area.
  • It is very important to minimize dust. There is no way to eliminate dust, but some methods make less dust than others. For example, using water to mist areas before sanding or scraping; scoring paint before separating components; and prying and pulling apart components instead of breaking them are techniques that generate less dust than alternatives.
  • Clean up thoroughly. The work area will be cleaned up daily to keep it as clean as possible. When all the work is done, the area should be cleaned up using special cleaning methods before taking down any plastic that isolates the work area from the rest of the home. The special cleaning methods should include using a HEPA vacuum to clean up dust and debris on all surfaces, followed by wet mopping with plenty of rinse water.

When the final cleaning is done, look around. There should be no dust, paint chips, or debris in the work area. If you see any dust, paint chips, or debris, the area should be re-cleaned.