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Update on Lead Paint from a Parent

August 13, 2008

Paint_250x251I posted about lead paint and got extensive and researched feedback from a local Brooklyn dad- Leo. Thanks LEO!

I think he has some great info for the rest of us.

Lead Cleaner
According to the EPA and others, most lead poisoning comes from dust, not chips. Dust can come from all sorts of unlikely places, such as from between your walls (gets into the room via unsealed gaps between wall and floor). The most effective solution is to clean dusty areas regularly using TSP (tri-sodium phosphate). TSP is a highly effective cleaner used by professional painters to prep surfaces prior to painting. TSP is the only cleaner, to my knowledge, that is officially listed as an effective lead-reduction cleaner… but it’s recommended as a temporary measure while you figure out your abatement strategy. The downside is that TSP is a nasty chemical – it should not be allowed to pool, must be applied with gloves, and must be rinsed off with water.

Lead Testers
The DIY tests are completely ineffective. They are eschewed by the NLIC and all professional testers. We tested several known lead surfaces and came up with a no-lead result. Lead chip samplings cost about $60/test, as do “wipe tests” which are used to sample dust (search for “ghost wipes” online), generally to test the results post-abatement. If you want to go this route, this lab has been reviewed well by some professionals I’ve spoken to: www.acsenvironmentalinc.com: http://www.acsenvironmentalinc.com. The best test, of course, is an in-home XRF (x-ray based) test, which must be performed by a professional. Runs about $500 to test a typical apartment. More information on NLIC site you cited. (The National Lead Information Center (NLIC) http://www.epa.gov/oppt/lead/)

DIY Lead Abatement
“Bound” doors and windows are the most common source of dust. These can be easily remedied, but doing it yourself may result in more damage (from dust released during the process) than good. Best to have done professionally, or if not, by using the NLIC’s best practices (tarp off area, use booties, use TSP to pre-clean, etc.). I found an awesome website explaining how to test for and remedy bound doors/windows: http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadsafetybk.pdf http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadsafetybk.pdf

One more thing. There’s a really cool product for DIY abatement. It seals off the paint underneath, and they recommend wet scraping the old paint. We just painted right over the failing lead paint, and it seems to be working, though it will probably fail in several years since the failing paint will undermine the integrity of the new paint. Still, it buys you some time. The product is specifically designed to encapsulate lead paint, and includes an ingredient that makes it taste bitter, should your child try to eat it. www.epaintstore.com/paint/child_guard.htm http://www.epaintstore.com/paint/child_guard.htm. More info here: www.bobvila.com/BVTV/HomeAgain/Video-1224-03-2.html

Lastly,  I’ve had a bitch of a time finding one of those NLIC-certified companies to do abatement. Most of them do abatements to cure official violations, and they seem to be too busy to return calls, or extremely unoprofessional one-man shops. Anyone with a good abatement contractor, please let me know.