Ann Barnett, Public Health Educator
Along with spring flowers, the season usually brings home repair projects. If you are thinking about doing some home repairs or remodeling projects, which may disturb old paint, I urge you to take safety precautions. Lead paint and lead dust continue to be the major source of lead exposure for childhood lead poisoning in Onondaga County. If your home is one of the 77% of Onondaga County homes built before 1978, it may contain hazardous lead paint and lead dust. Before you start your spring home repair and/or remodeling projects, I would like you to consider the following questions:
- Was your house built before 1978?
- Will you be working on painted surfaces?
- Have you had the paint tested to see if it is lead-based paint?
- Are you planning on hiring someone? Are they EPA Lead Certified?
- Do you know what safety precautions you or your repair man should use to protect yourself and your children from hazardous lead paint/lead dust?
- Do you qualify for a lead home repair grant?
Remodeling projects, home repairs, and normal wear and tear of painted surfaces like opening and closing windows and doors can create lead dust. Young children and pregnant women are especially at risk for exposure to lead paint and lead dust. In 2015, 391 individual homes were inspected by Onondaga County Health Department lead inspectors for lead hazards. Of the homes inspected, 86% were found positive for lead and will require repairs.
When remodeling an older home, we want you to WORK SMART, WORK WET, and WORK CLEAN. It is important to follow some safety steps:
- Keep pregnant women and children out of the work area
- Enclose the work area using heavy plastic (6 mil)
- Use a spray bottle to wet an area before sanding or scraping
- Avoid eating or drinking in the work area
- Wear a mask and wash your hands often with soap and water
- Clean up the work area using wet cleaning methods, only use a HEPA vacuum, carefully fold up used plastic, place it in a sealed garbage bag and put in the trash.
Let’s treat homes, not children.
There are resources to assist you! Visit www.ongov.net/health/lead to get more information about:
- Childhood lead testing
- Free home lead inspections
- Safely remodeling your home
- Lead paint home repair grants
- EPA Lead Safe Worker training requirements