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In our last post, we discussed steps homeowners should take when hiring a contractor to remodel their pre-1978 built home. But what if you are doing the work yourself, even a simple painting job in an older home?

Don’t risk your family’s health. Have your home tested for lead by an environmental testing company. You need to know if you’ll be disturbing old layers of lead paint so you can take appropriate steps to keep your family safe.

If remnants of lead paint are found, follow these precautions:

Evacute vulnerable family members. While you are working, be sure children younger than seven, pregnant women and pets leave for the day. Even a speck of lead dust can cause irreversible damage to them. They can return to the house after the work has stopped and the area is thoroughly cleaned.

Contain the area. Close the doors leading to the work area. Then use 4-6 mil plastic sheeting and painter’s tape to seal off the area, even over the doors. Seal all duct work in the area with the plastic sheeting and painter’s tape. Your goal is to prevent lead dust from contaminating the rest of your house.

Dress for success. Look for a mask or respirator with a N95 rating or higher, which filters out very fine particles. And be sure you wear it for the entire time you are working and cleaning. Also, buy a Tyvek suit to protect your clothes. If the work takes more than a day, leave the Tyvek suit in the contained area. And be sure to cover your feet with booties, which also should never leave  the contained area. Once you remove the Tyvek suit and the booties, head to your washing machine, strip, and wash your clothes.

Avoid sanding. Lead dust accounts for most of the 250,000 pediatric lead poisoning cases a year. Sanding releases fine lead dust particles, which fly through your air, infiltrating your house. Unfortunately, they stay in the air for a long time. Therefore, sand as little as possible.

Time to clean. First, sweep up as much of the dust and debris as you can and put it into a plastic bag, which you then seal with painter’s tape. Use a HEPA vacuum to remove any remaining lead dust particles. Then use warm water and clean rags to wash all surfaces. Every exposed surface must be cleaned well.

When the work is done, have another lead test performed by a professional testing company. Click here for more information or to schedule a lead test.


70% of homes are estimated to have mold behind walls. (Harvard EDU)

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How RTK Environmental Group keeps you safe while we’re in your home or workplace.

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