Which parts of the house are the most dangerous?
- In older dwellings with lead-based paint (pre-1970), hazardous levels of lead in dust are usually found on window sills and wells and on outside surfaces close to the dwelling (steps and porch floors and ledges). Carpets, rugs, and interior floors in older dwellings may also have hazardous levels of lead dust. If someone works around lead, lead dust on their work shoes or clothes could be transferred to vehicle floor mats and seats, interior floors and carpets, furniture and outside surfaces. Window sills, furniture, and carpets directly under old vinyl miniblinds with lead often have hazardous levels of lead dust. Lead can be in soil near old houses. Some lead-poisoned children also ingest lead paint chips or chew on old vinyl miniblinds.
If I think my house is contaminated, what do I do?
- Test your house and children.
- Remove the lead sources, or
- Minimize the house dust which contains the lead.
How do I test my home for lead?
- Hiring a certified risk assessor is the most accurate way to determine the locations of significant lead hazards in or near a dwelling.
- The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has a list of certified risk assessors as well as individuals and firms certified to do lead-based paint abatement work.
- Many hardware and home improvement stores sell qualitative home testers that can be used to detect the presence of lead in paint, vinyl miniblinds, electrical cords, ceramic ware, and ceramic tile, tubs and sinks. These testers change color to indicate the presence of lead, but do not indicate how much lead is present.
- You can take dust samples using baby wipes, paint chip samples, and soil samples and submit those to an environmental testing laboratory for analysis. You can also get a lead dust sampling kit from an environmental testing lab.
How do I remove the lead from my home?
- To remove lead dust, wet mop floors with a cleaning solution, preferably using a Swiffer type floor cleaner. Use cleaning wipes or cleaning solution with disposable rags or paper towels to clean window components and floor areas near windows and entryways. Wipe these surfaces again using rinse water and a new clean rag or paper towel. Old painted window sills can be covered with contact paper to create a barrier.
- In most cases, persons who perform lead-based paint activities (risk assessments or abatements) are subject to Regulations for Lead-Based Paint Activities of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and must be certified.
- Persons who perform lead-based paint activities within residential dwellings that they own are exempt from the regulations unless the dwelling is occupied by someone other than the owner or the owner's immediate family while these activities are being performed, or a child with an elevated blood lead levels resides in the dwelling.
- When repainting or remodeling, avoid removing lead-based paint, unless it is badly chipped or peeling on a surface that is difficult to cover or replace, or it is on a friction or impact surface that is difficult to cover or replace.
- Replacing, covering, or reversing lead painted surfaces usually reduces lead hazards better than repainting.
- Do not dry scrape or sand, power sand, sand blast, water blast, or use an open-flame torch or heat gun to remove lead paint. These methods can create dangerous amounts of lead dust and fumes.
- Instead, wet scrape surfaces with a draw scraper with a wet cloth wrapped around its head, or use a liquid paint remover without methylene chloride.
- Children or pregnant women should not be near the removal of lead paint. If residents remain, work in and close off one room at a time.
- Remove carpet, furniture and personal belongings before starting work. Tape 6 mil plastic sheets over floors and remaining furniture.
- Put plastic sheets over outside surfaces and ground nearby to catch debris from lead paint removal outside.
- Before residents return, you can use a HEPA vacuum before wet mopping surfaces with a cleaning solution, preferably with a Swiffer type floor cleaner. If using a string mop with buckets of cleaning solution and rinse water, a wet/dry vacuum cleaner in the wet mode can be used to clean up the wash or rinse water.