How to Safely Remove Lead Paint
LESLIE: Donna’s calling in with some questions about lead paint. What can we do for you today?
DONNA: Yes. My son purchased a home that was built in the 40s.
DONNA: The garage has probably about 1×4 planks of wood covering a frame with peeling paint that is lead-based. We tested it with one of those home test kits.
DONNA: And I’d like to know what’s the best way that we can remove it safely.
TOM: Ah, how much lead paint is there?
DONNA: It’s probably about 800 square feet.
TOM: Ooh, that’s a lot.
LESLIE: I don’t know if you want to do this, Donna.
TOM: Yeah, I don’t think you want to do it.
LESLIE: I mean was it the EPA that just earlier this year mandated that …
TOM: Well, contractors have to be certified now, yeah.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Pretty much, yeah. Every contractor has to have an EPA certification for the proper removal of lead-based paints and the proper sort of cleanup and sectioning-off methods from one area of your home to the area of the house that’s actually being worked on with the lead paint. Now …
TOM: Now this is outside and what can happen is if you get those chips in the soil …
LESLIE: In the ground.
TOM: … you can basically toxify the soil around the house. And then, you know, little kids that are playing there can get into the lead and that can get into their blood stream. So it’s really not a project for you to do yourself, when talking about that much paint.
LESLIE: When you go on the website for the EPA, they don’t really mandate this for homeowners who are taking on the projects on their own, which I think is unfortunate. We had some work done in my house; last year, October, we put in central air conditioning.
And at the time, my son was 18 months old and as clean as the folks were and as clean as I was in the house, my son touched something, put it in his mouth and had elevated lead levels and it was a huge concern for us. And thankfully, everything’s OK but I would not mess with it myself.
TOM: You can go to EPA.gov/lead; EPA.gov/lead. There’s a link there for renovation, repair and painting and they walk you through the requirements. And they have tips on what to do for various levels of lead exposure. In other words, how many square feet do you have to get rid of? But it’s definitely I don’t think something you want to do yourself; not with that much.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you want to look for a contractor who has this new certification.
DONNA: OK. You’ve answered my question. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.