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How to Work Safely
Whether you are renovating, remodeling, or performing interim controls, you must follow these safeguards to prevent lead dust from spreading throughout your home:
Construct an airlock at the entry to the work area. The airlock consists of two sheets of the thick plastic. One sheet is completely taped along all four edges. The tape must extend all the way around the top, two sides, and the floor. This plastic sheet is then cut down the middle. The second sheet is only taped along the top and acts as a flap covering the slit in the first sheet of plastic. If two entryways exist, one should be completely sealed in plastic. As an alternative, the doorway can be taped closed on all sides.
Remove all furniture, area rugs, curtains, food, clothing, and other household items until cleanup is complete. Items that cannot be removed from the work area should be tightly wrapped with the plastic sheeting and sealed with duct tape until all work and cleanup is complete.
Turn off forced-air heating and air conditioning systems when remodeling, renovating, or performing interim controls. Then cover the heating and air conditioning vents with the plastic sheeting. Tape the sheeting in place with duct tape. Windows should be kept closed unless volatile chemicals will be used.
Cover openings, such as gaps around pipes and between floorboards, with plastic or duct tape to prevent lead dust from sifting down to lower floors and rising to upper floors.
Cover exposed surfaces that you cannot remove with the plastic sheeting. Examples include floors, carpeting, counter tops, and shelves.
Tape around the door seals of refrigerators to prevent dust from getting into the food inside.
Spray water on lead-painted surfaces to keep dust from spreading.
Remodeling and Renovation
Lead-based paint is most often found around windows, in kitchens, and in bathrooms.
Home projects done on lead-painted areas can create harmful lead dust.
If you think your home has lead-based paint, hire a professional to test for lead before beginning work.
If your home has lead hazards, do not perform any renovations or remodeling yourself. Hire a trained contractor who knows how to work safely with lead.
Remember this important rule: Before beginning work, hire a professional to test affected areas and see if lead hazards exist. Call your state lead contact or the HUD Lead Listing at (800) LEAD-LIST for a list of qualified consultants in your area who perform testing services.
If you have already completed repairs or remodeling that could have released lead-based paint or dust.
Have your children ages 6 or younger tested for lead. Call your doctor or your local health department to schedule testing.
Keep children away from dust and paint chips.
Clean up all dust and chips with wet mops and rags. Pay special attention to floors and window troughs. If the test reveals lead-based paint in your home, it is best to have any repair or remodeling work done by a renovator who knows how to protect your family from exposure to lead dust. It is best to hire one who has training and experience in dealing with the hazards of
remodeling or renovating homes with lead-based paint. If you chose to do this work, you should follow all of the work practices and safety precautions in article.
Replacing or Working on Windows
Windowsills and frames on homes built before 1978 can have high amounts of lead-based paint. Because these items are seldom replaced, paint tends to build up on them. To remove a window safely, follow these basic safety precautions:
Tape the thick, plastic sheeting over the entire inside window opening.
Cover the floor under the window with the plastic sheeting to catch any falling dust. Also, cover the ground outside the window with the plastic sheeting to catch dust and chips.
Spray the windowsill and frame with water to reduce the dust.
Remove the window unit from the outside, if possible. If you must remove it from the inside, make sure you cover all entryways into the room in which you are working with the plastic sheeting.
Clean up, vacuum and dispose of all waste.
Performing Duct and Plumbing Work
Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning ducts can collect dust over the years. If you suspect that the dust contains lead, follow these steps when replacing or cleaning the ducts:
Cover the floor under the ducts with the thick, plastic sheeting to catch any falling dust.
Use a HEPA filter-equipped vacuum cleaner to remove dust from inside the ducts before starting work.
Rinse the duct pieces in an area away from your home before putting them back in place. If you are going to dispose of the old duct pieces.
Disturbing lead-soldered pipes can knock loose pieces of lead solder that can get into your drinking water. Follow these precautions when working with plumbing:
Use enough ventilation to avoid inhaling dangerous fumes from soldering.
Carefully throw away solder pieces in a tightly sealed trash bag.
Use lead-free solder when working on drinking water plumbing.
Remove faucet aerators and clean out any debris before reinstalling them. Look carefully for grit or pieces of solder and remove them.
Flush the supply pipes of loose pieces of solder by letting the water run for several minutes with the aerators removed.
Also, consider removing older plumbing fixtures such as faucets, lead pipes, or pipes connected with lead soldering and replacing them with lead-free ones. Consult a plumber or plumbing
materials distributor for more information.
Performing Minor Repairs
Performing minor repairs on lead-painted surfaces can expose you to lead hazards. If you plan to make minor repairs, such as repairing a door, drilling holes in walls, or sawing into painted wood or plaster, follow these steps:
Cover the floor under the work area with the thick, plastic sheeting to catch any sludge or dust.
Spray the work area surface with water to reduce the amount of dust generated during the repair.
To eliminate friction points on a door, first mist the door, then remove the door to plane it. Keep door surfaces being planed wet during repair. Replace the door when the work is complete.
After making the repair, use a HEPA-filter equipped vacuum cleaner to vacuum all surfaces within five feet of the work area.
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