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Disturbing lead-based paint creates a serious risk of exposure to lead dust and fumes.  However, taking the following precautions can greatly reduce the danger to your family.  This is especially crucial for buildings built before 1978.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has a new lead safety training video available:



  1. Isolate the work area  (for workers and tenants)

·        The work area should be off-limits to children, pets, and anyone not directly involved in the work.  Pregnant women should take extra care to avoid the area. 

·        Make sure the area is blocked off and that warning signs are posted.  (You may have to make alternative arrangements for eating, sleeping and using the bathroom if those areas are being worked on.) 

·        Heavy-duty plastic sheeting and tape should be used to cover floors and any furniture that can’t be moved, and to seal off doors and vents. 

·        Turn off forced-air heating and air-conditioning.

·        When working outside, cover exposed soil, plants and sandboxes with plastic sheeting.



  1. Minimize the spread of dust and debris  (for workers)

·        Use a spray bottle to mist paint before sanding or scraping. 

·        Use minimal force when separating components such as window frames. 

·        Score paint before separating components, and try to pull and pry components apart instead of breaking them.

·        Create a separate pathway for workers so debris isn’t tracked through the living area. 

·        Change out of work clothes when leaving the work area.


  1. Protect yourself 

·        Workers should wear safety goggles or safety glasses, and disposable coveralls and shoe covers. 

·        Always wear a respirator equipped with a HEPA filter, as ordinary dust masks will not keep lead particles out of the lungs. 

·        Do not eat, drink or smoke in the work area, and wash your hands and face after working.


  1.  Clean up thoroughly  (for workers)

·        The work area should be cleaned up daily, using a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter. 

·        When the job is completed, mist debris with a spray bottle, then fold up the plastic sheeting (taking care to fold it inward to trap dust and paint chips) and throw it away in tightly sealed bags. 

·        Wash all surfaces with soap and water.  There should be no dust, paint chips or debris left after cleaning. 

·        Check for residual lead contamination by hiring a certified professional or using a test kit available at hardware stores.


  1. Avoid prohibited methods

     The following methods should never be used: 

·        Open-flame burning or torching

·        Machine sanding or grinding without a HEPA local exhaust control

·        Abrasive sanding or sandblasting without a HEPA local exhaust control

·        Heat guns operating at over 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit, or hot enough      to char paint

·        Dry sanding or dry scraping

·        Paint stripping in a poorly ventilated area using volatile paint strippers that contain methylene chloride


  1.  If you see that lead safe work practices are not being used, call:

·        Your community based organizer (if you have one)

·        The Health Dept at 1-800-LA4LEAD (1-800-524-5323)


  1. Make sure that the contractor is certified by the state

California state law requires certification for anyone performing work designed to reduce or eliminate lead hazards. To verify a contractor’s current certification, or for information on when certification is required, call 1-800-LA4LEAD (1-800-524-5323) or check this list online:


Healthy Homes Collaborative, P.O. Box 31796, Los Angeles, CA 90031  P: (323)221-8320  F: (323)226-9587

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