LEAD POISONING: PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN
Do you know what is lead? Where is lead found? What are the health effects of lead? For educational material on lead go to www.epa.gov/lead and www.cdc.gov/lead. Learn about prevention of childhood lead poisoning.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR HOMEOWNERS & RENTERS
From the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services
BEWARE! You could poison yourself, your family and your pets if you live in a house built before 1978.
The danger? The paint might contain lead, which is toxic to children and adults when breathed in or swallowed. Improper removal of lead paint can produce paint chips, dust, and fumes – all of which can make you sick.
Pregnant or nursing women, children and pets are at particularly high-risk for poisoning when lead dust or fumes are present. Keep them away from any place where lead paint is being removed.
So, if you plan to renovate, remodel or repaint, read this. It will help answer the questions you may have about how to do the work - safely…without lead poisoning yourself and your family.
For more information contact:
National Lead Information Center Hotline
NJ DEPT. OF HEALTH & SENIOR SERVICES
Child and Adolescent Health Program
Consumer and Environmental Health Service
Occupational Health Service
NJ Dept. of Community Affairs
The effects of lead are much more severe for children and pregnant women. They should not be allowed in areas where this work is being done. Also remember that normal habits and hand-to-mouth activities of young children may place them at the risk of lead poisoning even if lead paint is intact. A child who chews on window sills or other painted surface can ingest lead paint even if it’s been painted over the non-leaded paint.
In children under age 6, lead can cause learning and behavioral problems. Lead can also pass from the mother and damage the growing fetus. Special care should be taken to protect infants, young children and pregnant women from exposure to lead. Adults working in lead-related occupations and “do-it-yourselfers” also are at high risk. Children under 6 and adults who are exposed to lead should have periodic blood level screening tests. It is important for everyone to keep blood lead levels as low as possible.
HOW CAN I FIND OUT IF THERE IS LEAD PAINT IN MY HOME?
The older your home is, the more likely you will find lead paint. The only way to know for sure is to have it tested. Testing can be done by an environmental or home inspection firm which has a New Jersey Department of Community Affairs lead evaluation certification. Lead was banned from house paints in 1978…so any house built before then could have lead paint in it.
IF THERE IS LEAD PAINT IN MY HOME, WHAT SHOULD I DO ABOUT IT?
If the lead paint is in good condition, you can probably just paint or wallpaper over it. But if it’s peeling or chipping it is a health hazard and should be either safely removed or covered. One of the safest methods of dealing with lead paint is to cover it with a material such as paneling or wallboard.
You may be able to do small jobs yourself, but projects that produce lead dust and paint chips should be left to a contractor who has a New Jersey Department of Community Affairs lead abatement certification.
REMOVING LEAD PAINT CAN BE HAZARDOUS TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY IF NOT DONE SAFELY.
WHAT ARE THE SAFEST WAYS OF REDUCING LEAD PAINT HAZARDS?
There are three common methods:
1) Replacement means removing leaded doors, windows and woodwork and installing new lead-free replacements. This method usually creates the least amount of lead dust.
2) Enclosure or Encapsulation means covering surfaces with a non-leaded material. Rigid materials, such as paneling or wallboard, provide the most durable protection, especially on deteriorating surfaces. On intact surfaces some paint-on coatings or wallpapers may provide adequate protection. Unless a lot of surface preparation is necessary, these methods are also usually a safe way of dealing with lead paint.
3) Paint removal can be done either in the home or off-site (windows, doors and woodwork can be removed and sent out to be shipped.)
- Off-site paint removal is a fairly safe method although some dust and debris are produced when components are removed.
- Most methods of on-site paint removal create dangerous levels of lead dust and debris. This type of work requires an approved respirator and protective clothing.
- NEVER DRY SAND LEAD PAINT BECAUSE VERY HIGH LEVELS OF DUST ARE PRODUCED. IF SANDING IS NECESSARY, WET SANDING IS SAFER.
- BE CAREFUL IF YOU PLAN TO USE CHEMICAL PAINT REMOVERS! SOME ARE FLAMMABLE AND CONTAIN TOXIC SOLVENTS. OTHERS CAN CAUSE SKIN OR EYE IRRITATIONS IF NOT USED PROPERLY. FOLLOW DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY!
- THE USE OF HEAT TO REMOVE LEAD PAINT CAN PRODUCE TOXIC
FUMES AND MAY BE A FIRE HAZARD.USING A HEAT GUN IS SAFER THAN OPEN FLAME BURNING.
IF YOU DECIDE TO SCRAPE LEAD PAINT, BE SURE YOU CATCH ALL PAINT CHIPS ON PLASTIC SHEETS.WET SCRAPING IS SAFER BECAUSE IT PRODUCES LESS DUST THAN DRY SCRAPING.
THE SAFEST REMOVAL METHODS ARE THOSE THAT CREATE AS LITTLE DUST AND DEBRIS AS POSSIBLE.
WHAT GUIDELINES SHOULD I FOLLOW IF I DECIDE TO REMOVE THE LEAD MYSELF?
- Plan to delead one room at a time and seal off the work area from the rest of the house with plastic sheets and duct tape.
- Remove furniture, carpeting, appliances, bedding and toys from the work area. Cover floors with 2 layers of heavy plastic to catch all particles and debris. Also cover heating and air conditioning ducts with plastic. For outdoor projects use plastic to catch all debris and to cover shrubs and other vegetation.
- Do not let children, pregnant women or pets stay in the house while lead paint is being removed. They may return only after a safe cleanup has been completed.
- Wear coveralls (or separate work clothes), shoe covers for separate work shoes), gloves, hat and eye protection.
- Keep street clothes in a clean area, separate from clothes worn during lead paint removal. All work clothes should be removed before eating and after cleaning up the work area. They should also be washed separately.
- Eat and drink away from the lead removal area. Food and drinks should never be stored in the work area. Do not smoke or chew gum or tobacco while working.
- Wash your hands, arms and face with soap and warm water before eating. Also, rinse your mouth thoroughly.
- Wear a properly functioning respirator, approved by NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. It should be equipped with a high efficiency filter cartridge, color coded PURPLE for toxic dusts. Wash the face piece at the end of each day and store in a clean area.
- THIS WORK MAY REQUIRE A BUILDING PERMIT. CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL BUILDING OFFICER.
PAPER MASKS DO NOT PROTECT YOU FROM LEAD DUST.