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What you should know about lead in the workplace
Tools Most homes and apartments built before 1978 have lead paint. In general, the older the home, the more likely it has lead. So, if you work in older homes, there are some steps you should take to protect yourself, employees ... and your family.

What's the big deal? 

Children with lead poisoning can suffer from:
  • Damage to the brain and nervous system 
  • Behavior and learning problems (such as hyperactivity) 
  • Slowed Growth 
  • Hearing Problems 
  • Headaches 
Adults can suffer from:
  • Difficulties during pregnancy 
  • Reproductive problems (both men & women) 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Digestive problems 
  • Nerve disorders 
  • Memory and concentration problems 
  • Muscle and joint pain
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Lead-related litigation poses a serious threat to landlords, renovators and contractors.  To find out what you can do to protect your business, your workers and your family, work smart and read "Working with Lead Paint" below.

. Working with Lead Paint .
Here are some practical suggestions on how to work smart ...

1. Either assume ALL paint is lead paint, or have a certified lead inspector perform XRF (non-destructive) testing. Don't rely on do-it-yourself kits from the hardware store. They only test the top layer of paint, while lead paint is usually buried under layers of newer, non-lead paint. 

2. Use lead safe work practices.  For example ...

Before you start ... 

   Interiors

  • Cover the work area with plastic sheeting. 

  • (Use 6 mil plastic and secure with duct tape.) 
  • If the work area is large, seal it off from the rest of the house. 
  • Cover and seal furniture with plastic. 
  • Turn off (and seal off) forced air heating and cooling vents. 


   Exteriors

  • Put plastic sheeting under the work area. Secure with stones, bricks or stakes. 
  • Don't work outside on windy days.
During Work
  • Keep non-workers out of the work area. 
    • If possible, move children and pregnant women out. 
  • Don't eat, drink or smoke in the work area. 
  • Always wash your hands and face when you leave the work area. 
  • Wear Protective clothing and shoes ... or ... 
    • Wash work clothes separately from other laundry. 
    • If possible, wear a respirator equipped with a HEPA filter. 
  • NEVER dry sand, scrape or blast lea-based paint. 
    • (Wet the surface to keep dust from spreading. 
  • Use an inexpensive mister - like those used when ironing.) 

  • NEVER use high temperature heat guns or open flame on lead paint.

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Don't Scrape Sign

NEVER use a dry scraper or belt sander to remove lead-based paint. This creates large amounts of lead dust which can remain long after the work is done. It takes a special HEPA vacuum to trap lead dust.

After Work Is Completed

  • Remove plastic sheeting by carefully rolling it inward. 
    • It's a good idea to mist the plastic before you roll it up to keep dust from spreading. 
  • Wrap construction debris with plastic. 
  • Vacuum exposed areas with a HEPA vacuum. 
  • Wash exposed areas with TSP or powdered automatic dishwasher detergent and water. 
  • Change clothing and shoes before leaving the work area. 
  • Shower and wash your hair right after finishing work. 
3. Call 800-LEAD-FYI to order "Reduce Lead Hazards When Remodeling Your Home."

4. If you're a contractor, find out if the OSHA Lead In Construction Standard applies to you and your employees. (It probably does.)  Look for special programs like the the Lead Safe Contractor project at HealthyHouse.org in Southern California for low cost (or even FREE) training.
 

     
    To download reference material go to FACT SHEETS

    To learn more about lead poisoning see our LEAD FACTS and FAQ pages.

    For information on regulations applicable to contractors go to UPDATE.

    Questions? Ask us at: customersvc@homesafe.org


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