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Do you have a question about how to make your home safe, healthy and energy efficient? Ask us! 

At GHHI we have leading experts on lead safety, environmental health, family advocacy, tenant's rights, energy efficiency, home safety issues, pest control and more. They have provided several answers to frequently asked questions on this page. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, send us your questions by filling out the form to the right and we’ll find one of our experts to help get it answered!

How can I safely perform repairs to my house if it has lead paint?

If you are doing renovation work in your home and you will be disturbing chipping, flaking and/or peeling lead-based paint, be sure to use lead safe work practices and worker protections, including:

  • Keep children and pregnant women out of the home or at least prevent family members from having access to the work area until the work is completed.
  • Cover all furniture, belongings, and floors with thick plastic.
  • Wet scrape deteriorated surfaces by misting them before sanding or by using a wet sanding sponge. NEVER dry scrape or dry sand or burn the lead painted surfaces. This will release more hazardous lead into the air and onto the floor and can poison everyone in the home.
  • Dispose of all debris and work materials in sealed, thick plastic bags and remove from the home immediately.
  • HEPA-vacuum and wet clean surfaces in the home to clean up any lead dust after work has been completed.
  • Workers should protect themselves while repairing chipping paint by wearing a respirator and a Tyvek suit.

How can repairs be safely done to my home if it contains lead?

If the area to be fixed is large or if there are multiple areas that need to be addressed, the best option is to hire a lead certified contractor. A certified contractor will know the proper way to do the work, clean up afterwards and dispose of things safely to minimize the risk of possible exposure to you and your family. Always ask to see credentials to verify the contractor has proper certifications.

Children and pregnant women, in particular, should be out of the home when lead paint is disturbed. Other adults should stay out of the area where work is being done and no one should go back into the work area until it has been inspected and has passed a lead dust clearance test.

Contractors who perform lead hazard reduction work in homes built before 1978 should use trained workers and lead safe work practices. They are also required to be in compliance with the EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule. You can find information about this rule here.

How can I reduce lead hazards in my home?

Homes built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint and lead hazards. We recommend that you have your home tested by a certified inspector and use a lead certified contractor to do any work in your home. Call the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative at 800-370-LEAD if you need help identifying a certified inspector or contractor or to locate possible grant funds to help pay for these services.

How can I find out if I have lead paint in my house? I assume there is since it was built around the 1930s.

An important question, especially if there are young children who live in or regularly visit your home (there are over 500,000 kids poisoned by lead every year in the US). 

Since your home was built before 1978, there is a good chance it has lead-based paint. The best way to check for lead is to hire a certified Lead Risk Assessor. They will perform an X-ray flourescent test for leaded surfaces as well as test for leaded dust. Lead dust that forms from chipping, peeling or flaking leadbased paint is actually the main pathway for poisoning of young children.

One caution, if you see chipping paint (often looks like old alligator skin)—do not dry scrape it! To learn safe ways to address lead hazards in your home visit our Lead Hazards page.

I'm thinking changing the windows in my bathroom to the kind that open. Would this help reduce mold and mildew?

Yes, installing windows that open is a great idea. Fresh air ventilation is really important in places like bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and basements to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Installing vents with fresh air returns are a great step to a healthier home as well.

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