How to Safely Remove Lead Paint

Lead poisoning presents a potentially very serious health issue. As well as making sufferers physically ill, lead poisoning can cause long term neurological damage. It is a particular concern for young children (aged six and under) with the primary source of exposure being old lead paint which is now deteriorating. Many American families are currently living in houses that are covered in lead paint, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you should pack your bags and run.


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Fortunately, now that there is a widespread awareness and understanding of the health hazards posed by lead-based paints, it is no longer used in residential properties. Any property built after 1978 should in theory be completely free of lead paint. If you live in an older home however, and you begin to notice that paint is flaking, chipping, or peeling away, then you should remove it as soon as possible.

This guide will walk you through the basic steps involved in removing lead paint from your property. While this is something that can be done by anyone with a basic knowledge of DIY, you should remember that you are working with a hazardous substance and take the appropriate steps to protect yourself.

Control the Dust

Before you go any further, you need to ensure that you are prepared to contain any dust that might become airborne while you work. You should have a face mask on at the very least, in order to protect you from inhaling particles of lead. The easiest way of doing this is to tape some polyethylene plastic to the floor, making sure to form a complete seal, this is particularly important if you have a carpet underfoot as any dust that becomes trapped in the carpet can easily become airborne again.

If you are planning on removing the lead paint in someone else’s property in a professional capacity, then you should seek out the appropriate certification and training first. Earning ZOTApro certification, for example, will demonstrate that you know what you’re doing.

Wet the Paint and Scrape It Off

Wetting the paint, using a spray bottle filled with water, will encourage it to come off in clumps which fall to the ground rather than particles which float through the air. You should then start at the top and work your way down, scraping the paint and wiping or vacuuming away any resulting sludge and water.

Removing all the paint is quite a time consuming and intensive task, it is up to you to decide whether this is necessary. Lead paint is not considered hazardous until it begins to deteriorate and thus risks becoming airborne.

Finishing Up

Once you have removed all the areas of paint which are of concern, you should then sand the areas down and make sure that you thoroughly vacuum the room until you are certain that you have removed any stray dust which might have collected on floors, windowsills, or other areas.

Lead paint can present a serious health hazard where it has begun to deteriorate, it is therefore important that it is safely removed where it is identified. If you are unsure how to proceed then always consult with a professional in order to protect your own health.