Lead Safety for Renovation, Repair, and Painting

By Caren Dorfman, of Alco Products Co

Starting April 22, 2010 the EPA’s new law aimed at lead safe work practices was put into effect. The owner of a home improvement or remodeling company will have to take a class and pass a test in order to be lead certified. Lead installers must also pass a certification test. Home buildings and child care facilities built before 1978 are at risk of containing lead paint. Lead based paint was used in more than 38 million homes until banned for residential use in 1978.

The problem with lead

Lead can affect children’s brains and developing nervous systems causing reduced IQ, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems. Lead also harms adults.

Dust is the most common culprit for human exposure to lead. People can also get lead in their bodies from lead in soil or paint chips. Lead dust is often invisible.

Projects that disturb lead based paint can create dust and endanger you. The law has specific practices to prevent the risk of lead exposure.

Dust is the main problem the way exposure to lead is found. Lead dust comes from deteriorating lead based paint and lead contaminated soil that is tracked into a home. Home renovation creates dust. Common renovations like sanding, cutting and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips .

Recommendations for Home Remodelers

  1. Pass the EPA Lead Safe Cerfitifcation Test.
  2. Contain the work area so dust and debris do not escape; cover floors and furniture that cannot be moved.
  3. Seal off doors and heating and cooling system vents.
  4. Try to minimize dust by using water to mist areas before sanding, scraping, or scoring paint. Separate components and make sure to pry and pull apart components instead of breaking them. It will generate less dust than the alternatives.
  5. Do not operate an open flame ( burning or torching, sanding, grinding, planning, needle gunning, or blasting ) without a shroud and HEPA vacuum attachment.
  6. Do not use a heat gun at temperatures greater than 1100F, as it creates greater dust and debris.
  7. The law specifies cleaning up with very special methods. The work area must be cleaned daily using a HEPA vacuum to rid the dust followed by wet mopping with plenty of rinse water.
  8. At the conclusion of the job. a dust swipe is needed to determine using an EPA kit to determine if the lead is gone.

Follow these steps to ensure the safety of your home improvement clients and to avoid steep fines for breaking the law.

Alco Products Co serves the Washington DC Area and has offices in Bethesda and McLean, VA.

Contact zkreisman@aol.com with any additional questions regarding lead renovation and repairing.

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  1. EPA requires individuals conducting lead-based paint activities (abatement, inspection, and risk assessment) in target housing and child-occupied facilities to be trained and certified. The trainers are accredited to ensure quality, and certified individuals must follow specific work practices.

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