How to Solve a Lead-Paint Problem


About 75 percent of houses built before 1978 contain lead paint. If you have one of these homes, you need to understand the risks associated with lead. Avoid doing anything that might abrade or break a painted surface (inside or outside) until you know whether it contains lead. If you're doing permitted work yourself, make sure that you know--and follow--the proper procedures and precautions.

Things You'll Need

  • Chemical Lead-test Kit
  • Personal Protection Gear
  • EPA Booklets On Lead
  • Duct Tape
  • Plastic Sheets
  • HEPA Vacuum Cleaner
  • Buckets, disposal bags, Buckets, disposal bags,Buckets, disposal bags, and other cleaning and disposal equipment and supplies

Determine if you have lead paint

  • Test painted surfaces for lead. You can rely on positive results from chemical lead-test kits, but if you get a negative result, collect and send samples to a lab for testing or have a professional test using an X-ray fluorescence machine.

  • Inform yourself! Start by reading "Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home" and "Reducing Lead Hazards When Remodeling Your Home." Call the National Lead Information Service at (800) 424-5323 or download these brochures at

Limit contamination during projects

  • Turn off air-conditioning and forced-air heating systems.

  • Move everything you can out of the work area. Cover and seal in plastic anything you can't move. For example, move furnishings out of a room and cover the floor with plastic.

  • Seal the work area with plastic and duct tape.

  • Take steps to control dust, such as misting work surfaces with water.

Clean up and retest

Protect your health

  • Keep away everyone who does not need to be in the work area, especially children and pregnant women, who are more vulnerable to lead contamination.

  • Wear personal protection gear, including, for example, a respirator with HEPA filters that's approved by NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), protective clothing and goggles.

Tips & Warnings

  • Everyday actions, such as opening and closing windows and doors, generate lead-contaminated dust.
  • Ordinary paint will not seal lead-based paint. Special encapsulating paint is required.
  • Check the yellow pages under "Lead Inspection and Control" for licensed, certified professionals who do lead-paint removal and control.

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