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Protect your Family from Do-It-Yourself Project Dangers

How to fix, repair, and paint your home safely.

If you’re repairing or painting your home, watch for hidden dangers. Homes built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint. Lead-based paint is not harmful when it is on the walls. It is dangerous when the paint begins to peel, chip, and come off the wall.

When lead-based paint begins to chip or peel, it makes lead dust. This kind of dust does not look different from normal dust. But, lead dust can be very dangerous to you, your children, and your pets. Even very small amounts of lead dust can be harmful. Always use a method that creates the least amount of dust and fumes.

Following these steps will help protect your family. If possible, you should consider hiring a professional contractor with experience in working safely with lead removal. Whether you're going to do the job yourself or hire somebody, make sure the job is done safely.

Keep dust down.

  • Dust every week with a damp cloth.
  • Clean hard surface floors with a wet mop.
  • Before scraping or sanding, put thick plastic over any vents and windows in the room. Seal edges with tape.
  • Create a plastic doorway to prevent the lead dust from spreading.
  • Spray walls with water before scraping and sanding paint. Before sweeping up the dust on the floor, spray with more water. Wear coveralls to keep lead dust off your clothes. You can also change clothes immediately to stop the lead dust from moving into other rooms.
  • Take shoes off when entering your home.
  • Clean repair areas with a HEPA vacuum (High Efficiency Particulate Air). This vacuum is able to filter lead dust. You can borrow one through the Lead HEPA Vacuum Loaner Program.

Keep hands washed and clean.

  • Wash your hands after touching any chipping or peeling lead-based paint in your home. It is especially important to wash your hands before eating.
  • Help your children wash their hands after playing outside or before eating. Teach your children to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
  • Clean your children’s hands, toys, bottles, and other items your children put in their mouths.

Get children tested.

  • Take your children to get blood lead tests.
  • If your children who are on Medicaid, they must be tested for lead at 1 and 2 years of age.
  • Test children if they live in or spend time in a zip code with many older homes.
  • If you do not know where to get a lead test for your children, contact your local health department or your children’s doctor.

Other resources to help you repair your home safely.

 Last Updated: 7/1/14