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How To Safely Remove Lead Products From Your Environment

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Lead products in the last few decades have become the source of many controversial reports. While lead has its place in the production of many useful items, it can also be an environmental and health hazard. If you suspect or know that you have lead products in your home or your commercial building, there are a couple of different approaches to dealing with these products. Some approaches are rather simple (e.g., leave the unexposed lead products inside the walls), while others are a little more complex (removal and/or abatement of lead shavings). Here are some suggestions on how you can manage your lead problem, based on what lead products were used and where they are located.

Lead Paint

Lead in paint lends a heavier metallic body to the paint. It is most commonly found in white paint or paint where lead white was used to mix and create other colors. There are two ways to address a lead paint issue in your home or building:

  1. Don HAZMAT suits and filtering masks and scrape all of the paint off the walls and ceiling, then repaint with "unleaded" paint.
  2. Paint several coats of non-lead paint over the top of your current lead paint surfaces, or fully wallpaper the walls.

You would only want to do option #1 above IF you already have peeling, chipping and cracking paint that needs to be fully removed anyway before a new coat of paint can be applied. In the second option above, you will want more than the usual two coats of paint to seal leaded paint behind the surface. If you choose to wallpaper instead, you can seal cracks while covering lead paint at the same time.

Lead Structures Inside the Walls

Lead has been used to create rebar and other building materials. If these materials are now poking through the walls or exposed to the air, you will want to have them removed and replaced, if possible. If the materials cannot be removed and replaced because they would cause additional structural damage to your home or your building, then see if you can recover and reseal the lead materials back into the walls and/or ceiling. Consulting with a structural engineer and and environmental protection agent will help you decide what the best course of action is for dealing with lead bolts, lead joists, lead rebar and even lead fasteners that seem to find their way out through the drywall, cinder blocks and/or plaster.