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Lead Paint















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Your Home and the Environment

Lead and Asbestos

Lead Paint

Lead paint can be found in homes built before 1978—and it's almost guaranteed you'll find at least some lead paint in older houses. We all know that chips of lead paint are dangerous because children can put them in their mouths. A less-obvious danger is the lead dust created when two painted surfaces rub together—double-hung windows, for example—or lead dust raised during renovation.

Test for lead before beginning any renovation project that will disturb painted surfaces. Call a local testing lab for instructions on how to gather the samples. Do-it-yourself testing kits are also available at many home centers.

If lead-based paint must be removed, it is usually best to leave the job to a licensed abatement contractor. They will take special precautions to avoid releasing lead dust throughout the house.

If you decide to remove the paint yourself, do some research first to find out how to protect yourself and others in the house from lead poisoning. Among other things, you'll find that:

  • You need a respirator
  • It is recommended that your clothes go straight into the washer (alone) as soon as you finish working
  • HEPA vac helps clean up dust without scattering it as regular vacuums do
  • A thorough washdown of all surfaces with TSP is recommended.

Wet removal methods are considered safest. Scraping and sanding are not viable methods because they cause dust. Heat-stripping must be done at low temperatures to avoid vaporizing the lead. Proper disposal of the paint debris is vital. Contact your local solid waste department for instructions.

For further information, visit You can request literature at


Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that takes many forms, was used in many home-related products before it was banned for such use. Some of these include pipe insulation, siding, roofing, drywall compound, drywall texturing compounds, ceiling tiles, and flooring adhesives. It has also turned up in some vermiculite products that came from asbestos-contaminated mines.

When considering whether the asbestos in your home is dangerous, you must consider whether the asbestos-containing material (ACM) is friable or nonfriable. In other words, is the material crumbling or fraying and releasing asbestos fibers, or is it intact so the fibers are prevented from being released into the air? In general, intact, nonfriable ACM is not a hazard—until you tear into it to remove it. For this reason, it is best to simply leave intact ACM alone or cover over it (without disturbing the ACM) or hire a licensed abatement contractor to remove it.

There is a lot of asbestos information available on the web. A good site to start with is


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