|Most homes built before 1978 have some
lead-based paint. Lead paint in good condition is usually not a problem.
But when paint is deteriorated, damaged, or disturbed, it can release lead-contaminated
dust. This dust settles on floors, window sills, and other surfaces and
can poison children.
1. Prevent damage to paint. Water damage
from leaks and moisture causes most paint failure. Keep the
roof in good repair. Make sure that gutters and downspouts
are not blocked. Fix all water leaks promptly.
2. Watch out for peeling paint. Make it easy for tenants
to report peeling paint. Respond promptly, especially when young children
or pregnant women occupy units. Check for peeling paint every time you
or your workers come onto the property. Take advantage of vacancies to
check carefully for peeling paint.
3. Promptly repair peeling paint. Use safe methods that
control, contain, and clean up lead dust. Assume that any peeling paint
may be a lead hazard, unless a certified lead inspector documents that
your property is free of lead paint. Free training courses in lead-safe
work practices are now available in many cities. Visit www.epa.gov/opptintr/lead/pubs/traincert.htm
for more information.
Follow these guidelines to work safely with lead-based paint.
- Isolate the work area. Seal off the work are with
heavy plastic sheets.
- Shield surfaces from dust. Cover the floor or soil
beneath the work area with heavy plastic sheets. Remove furniture from
the work area or cover with plastic sheets.
- Protect occupants. Keep children and pregnant women
out of the work area.
- Mist painted surfaces before scraping and sanding.
- Do not use tools that create dust and paint chips.
A power sander or grinding machine should have a shroud to trap dust.
These tools should also have HEPA vacuum attachments. Do not use power
washing or abrasive blasting on painted surfaces.
- Beware of toxic hazards when removing old paint.
Do not use open flame torches or heat guns above 1100°F. High heat
creates poisonous fumes. Never use paint strippers that contain methylene
- Clean up the area after the job. Roll or fold plastic
sheets inward to keep lead-contaminated dust from escaping. Vacuum all
floors, counters, molding, window sills, and other surfaces where dust
might have settled. Vacuums equipped with a HEPA filter work best. Scrub
floors, walls, etc., with an all-purpose detergent and disposable towels.
Rinse well. Use a separate bucket for rinse water. Change rinse water
often. Dispose of debris, towels, and wash cloths in heavy plastic bags.
Never burn leaded debris.
- Protect workers. Workers should wear protective clothing.
Before leaving the work area, workers should clean or remove their shoes
to avoid tracking dust with lead in it to the rest of the property or
to their own homes. Work clothes should be removed as soon as possible
and washed separately. Workers should wash their faces, hands, and hair
to be sure they are free of dust.
- Leave no lead dust hazards behind. After cleanup
is finished, a lead dust test is the only way to be sure that hazards
are not left behind. A qualified member of your staff can take dust
samples for analysis by an environmental laboratory for a small fee.
You can also hire an independent lead professional.
4. Make a habit of lead safety. Be sure
everyone is familiar with good practices and has the right
- Train your staff. A training course can help your
workers work safely with lead hazards.
- When you hire a contractor to paint or remodel, insist on
- When you buy equipment, include features that control lead
dust. Vacuum cleaners should be equipped with HEPA filters.
Power sanders and planers should have HEPA vacuum attachments.
- Watch out for lead dust hazards. Control, contain,
and clean up lead dust whenever units are turned over and after you
repaint or remodel.
- Ask for help. Call in a certified lead expert if
you or your crew do not have experience with lead hazards.
5. Tell your tenants. Federal law requires
owners to distribute a brochure to tenants on possible lead
hazards in their homes. This pamphlet, Protect Your Family
from Lead in Your Home, is free. You can get copies by
calling 1-800-424-LEAD. Owners are also required to provide
tenants with available information about lead paint and lead
hazards and include warning language in the lease.
6. Follow all applicable laws and regulations. Property
owners are responsible for knowing and complying with all legal requirements
that apply to maintenance activities and lead poisoning prevention at
the national, state, and local levels. Nothing on this web page shall
replace or in any way limit such legal obligation.