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CPSC Warns About Hazards of "Do lt Yourself" Removal of Lead Based Paint:
Safety Alert

There is no completely safe method for "do-it-yourself" removal of lead-based paint, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Each of the paint-removal methods - sandpaper, scrapers, chemicals, and torches or heat guns - can produce lead fumes or dust. Fumes or dust can become airborne and be inhaled. Further, dust can settle on floors, walls, and tables, and can cause problems. It can be ingested by children from hand-to-mouth contact. It can re-enter the air through cleaning (such as sweeping or vacuuming) or by movements of people throughout the house. Lead-based paint should be removed only by professionals, trained in hazardous material removal, who follow detailed procedures to control and contain lead dust.

Lead-based paint may be found on any interior or exterior surface in an older home, particularly on woodwork, doors, and windows. Heavily-leaded paint was used in about two-thirds of homes built before 1940, one-half of homes built from 1940 to 1960, and some homes built after 1960. In 1978, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission lowered the legal lead content in most paint to 0.06% (a trace amount).

Lead-based paint is a major source of lead poisoning for children and can also affect adults. Lead poisoning can cause brain damage and can result in impaired mental functions. Lead poisoning in children can result in retarded mental and physical development and reduced attention span. In adults, lead poisoning can cause irritability, poor muscle coordination, nerve damage to the sense organs and nerves controlling the body, and may cause problems with reproduction (such as decreased sperm counts). Lead poisoning may also increase the blood pressure in adults. Retarded fetal development can occur at even low blood lead levels. Thus, unborn children, infants, young children, and adults with high blood pressure have been identified as being most vulnerable to the effects of lead.

The room should be sealed from the rest of the house. All furniture, carpets and drapes should be removed.

Workers should wear respirators designed to avoid inhaling lead.

No eating or drinking should be allowed in the work area. All food and eating utensils should be removed from the room. All cabinets as well as food contact surfaces should be covered and sealed.

Children and other occupants (especially infants, pregnant women, and adults with high blood pressure) should be kept out of the house until the job is completed.

Clothing worn in the room should be disposed of after working. The work clothing should not be worn in other areas of the house.

Debris should be cleaned up using special vacuum cleaners with HEPA (high efficiency particle absorption) filters. A wet mop should be used after vacuuming.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has evaluated methods for removal of lead-based paint. HUD has contracted out to develop for removal of lead-based paint.


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission protects the public from the unreasonable risk of injury or death from 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, you can go to CPSC's forms page and use the first on-line form on that page. Or, you can call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270, or send the information to info@cpsc.gov . Consumers can obtain this publication and additional publication information from the Publications section of CPSC's web site or by sending your publication request to publications@cpsc.gov . If you would like to receive CPSC's recall notices, subscribing to the email list will send all press releases to you the day they are issued.

This document is in the public domain. It may be reproduced without change in part or whole by an individual or organization without permission. If it is reproduced, however, the Commission would appreciate knowing how it is used. Write the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Office of Information and Public Affairs, Washington, D.C. 20207 or send an e-mail to info@cpsc.gov .


Lead Risk Assessment:
Should be done in any home occupied by young children.
Should be done in commercial and public buildings where lead hazards could exist.

Helps protect children from lead poisoning.
You may be required by law to have your home or building inspected for lead.

Failure to comply with increasingly complex lead regulations can result in regulatory action, especially if there is a potential for tenants to be exposed to lead hazards.

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