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Monday, April 27, 2015

How Do I Get Rid Of Lead in My Home?

We discussed the problems with lead, especially how it harms children, and how to determine if you have lead in your home. Now we need to learn how to remove it or compensate for it.

Toys, appliances, etc.
Portable personal property items, such as; toys, cooking implements, decorations, etc. can easily be discarded and replaced with non-lead products. That's the easy part and don't bypass this step. I know of one family that was poisoning all of their children by using a lead alloy mortar and pestle to prepare food. Fortunately it was discovered, and now their children are improving in a lead-free environment. Many slow cookers, electric skillets and other older appliances have lead in the paint. They are not hard to test and easier to replace.

Lead paint on the walls
Lead in the structure of your home is not impossible to remove, but a little more difficult. Lead can be in the paint on the walls, the door and window trim, doors and shutters, floor finishes, etc.. The best way to remove it is to remove the surface it is painted on. 

  • This is easy for doors, trim and shutters, but more difficult for walls.  
  • Walls can be laminated with a layer of 1/2'' drywall trapping the lead and reducing the chance of contamination. 
  • Floors can be sanded and refinished with a non-lead product. 
  • Many surfaces can be painted over with 1-2 coats of a non-lead paint. It is important to clean the surface and apply a good primer, such as; Kilz or Zinsser, so the new paint adheres well and won't peel off later.
  • But there are a few caveats called safety precautions that must be understood and followed when removing or working around lead paint.
Safety precautions for lead renovation
Lead only becomes a problem when we breathe or swallow it. When you tear a wall out, or sand the surface of the paint, millions of tiny lead ladened particles become airborne, waiting to be ingested. We can consume a lifetime of lead in a few minutes during a sanding project. That is why the EPA established basic rules for remediation to ensure a safe environment during and after renovation.

1. There must be plastic laid out and taped to the floor, walls and ceilings for 6 ft each direction inside a home and 10 ft each direction outside a home.
2. All dust must be contained and not allowed to spread out of the environment. Often this requires a completely enclosed containment barrier with negative air pressure.
3. There is to be no eating, drinking or smoking inside the contained area or outside the area until workers are decontaminated.
4. Restrict access to the renovation area, especially children and pregnant women.
5. Anyone inside the contained area must wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including; disposable clothing, gloves, breathing protection, eye protection, etc..
6. Turn off any furnaces, air conditioners or fans before the work begins and and do not turn them on until the work is completed and the area is cleaned.
7. Post warning signs to keep unprotected or high risk individuals from entering.
8. At the end of the renovation, all equipment must be thoroughly cleaned and all disposable barriers, clothes, etc, must be doubled bagged and disposed of. 
That's way over my head, what can I really do?
There are many people, who, with the proper instruction and training, could remove the lead from their home without problems to their families. Many others would have a very difficult time, crash and burn, and likely contaminate themselves and those they loved. 

The next step? 
Use a Certified Lead Renovator. These contractors have taken the EPA approved courses, have the proper equipment and trained employees to do a thorough job. 

You can find local trained contractors in your area by going to the EPA site. On this page, you can select the link to your State where you should find a link to a list of Certified Renovation Contractors. If you state is not listed, there is a form you can fill out and send to the EPA so they can help locate the closests firms.

No you know who, what, why and how. Protect your family from the ravages of lead poisoning.

For more information, check out:
Renovate Right, EPA document on lead poisoning and renovation
The Truth About Lead Paint Poisoning, tri-fold brochure
Steps to Lead Safe Renovation, Repair and Painting
American Healthy Home Survey, Lead and Arsenic Findings, April 2011

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