Painting or Renovating Your Home: The Lead-Save Way
By Rachel Adell
In 1978, the federal government banned lead-based paint in America. Before that, lead paint was commonly used in many homes. Lead is hazardous to your health and the health of your family, but it is especially dangerous for children. If you want to renovate or repaint a home built before 1978, the lead must be removed by a certifi ed contractor who is trained in lead-safe work practices. Before hiring a contractor, ask to see his or her training certificate.
Prepare for the renovation.Depending on where the work takes place, you may need to make arrangements for an alternative kitchen, bathroom(s), and/or bedroom(s) for your use. You may also need to consider alternative housing for your family and pets. Remove as much furniture as you can before the renovation.
Know what a safe renovation looks like. The contractor should clearly explain the details of the job before work begins and should provide you with a safety pamphlet from the Environmental Protection Agency EPA). Look it over! Minimizing the spread of lead dust is key when properly and safely renovating your home.
To minimize lead dust, use plastic sheeting to block off doors, windows, and air vents. The contractor may put up warning signs around the work area. Also, the contractor and workers will use the same route between the work area and the outdoors each time they enter and leave the house in order to prevent the spread of lead dust.
Review the work. After the renovation is complete, the contractor should tell you what they cleaned and how they cleaned it. Proper cleaning includes the use of disposable cleaning cloths to wipe the floor and other surface areas. The contaminated cloths can be compared to an EPA-provided cleaning verifi cation card to make sure the work area was fully cleaned.
Steps like these will help to ensure a safe renovation. Working with a professional, certified contractor decreases the lead hazards in your home and protects you and your family. For more information on finding a certified contractor, check out this EPA guide: http://epa.gov/lead/pubs/broch32e.pdf.
Rachel Adell is a college ambassador in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech.
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