How to deal with lead paint in older homes

Lead exposure can be prevented, but improper remediation techniques can cause harm. Use the following check list to make sure you and your family are kept safe.

  • When considering a pre-1978 house to rent for you and your children, ask the landlord for a copy of a certificate showing it's lead-free or lead-safe.
  • Alert your landlord to any chipping or peeling paint, especially on windowsills, doors and stair rails.
  • Regularly wet-mop floors and vacuum with a HEPA-filter to trap any lead dust.
  • Clean window frames and sills weekly with warm water and an all-purpose cleaner.
  • If you own your home and want to abate lead paint yourself, seal off rooms with plastic sheeting and use drop cloths to contain lead dust.
  • Cover windowsills with vinyl or aluminum or replace windows and doors with new ones.
  • If you choose encapsulation, use a special paint-like coating (search "lead paint encapsulation" online) that bonds with and seals in lead paint.
  • If you or your landlord hire a contractor, make sure the contractor is certified in lead abatement.
  • When the work is done, wet mop with plenty of rinse water, and make sure no dust, paint chips or debris remain.
  • Don't allow children to chew on painted surfaces.
  • Don't allow an uncertified contractor to work in your home.
  • Don't allow children or pregnant women around any lead paint removal work until clean-up is complete.
  • Don't use an open-flame torch to remove lead paint.
  • Don't use sandpaper on surfaces with lead paint.
  • Don't use a heat gun at temperatures greater than 1100° F.
  • Don't use an electric heat sander without a HEPA attachment to capture dust.
  • Don't power wash without a method to trap the water and paint chips.
  • Don't burn lead debris.
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