How to safely remove lead-painted surfaces before renovation

2021-09-06T10:37:06+00:00September 3rd, 2021|Features|
Image by SAPMA

Image by SAPMA

By the SA Paint Manufacturer’s Association

The SA Paint Manufacturing Association (SAPMA) says it is important that professional painters and decorators realise the potential health risks associated with the renovation of painted surfaces that contain lead, to ensure personal and public safety while working on projects.

For outside working, contamination of the soil should be avoided. Cover all grass and garden bedding nearby with plastic sheeting and avoid working in windy or wet conditions. Image by SAPMA

For outside working, contamination of the soil should be avoided. Cover all grass and garden bedding nearby with plastic sheeting and avoid working in windy or wet conditions. Image by SAPMA

It is important to realise that the main risk is if the paint film is damaged, unsound, or flaking off, where lead-containing particles and dust may be inhaled. There is also a risk to human health by ingestion, such as physical contact with a lead-painted surface when a child licks the surface.

SAPMA’s sister organisation, the British Coatings Federation, has provided extensive guidelines on how to safety deal with lead in old painted surfaces:

Old lead-painted surfaces should only be treated, overcoated, or removed if the paint (film) is flaking or chipping away, or if dust and particles are present, or the possibility of the painted surface being chewed or sucked by children. If the lead-containing painted surface is in good condition and already overcoated with unleaded paint, then removal could result in a greater exposure to lead dust and particles than from leaving the paint undisturbed.

Precautions:

These precautions must be taken when renovating or removing old lead paint from a building surface:

Avoid the creation of lead-containing dust or fumes.

Prohibit anyone not involved in the work from the area, and preferably the whole building, until the work has been fully completed and the area thoroughly cleaned. Inform anyone in the building that the work is being carried out.

Ensure no children or pregnant women are present in any area where renovation work which involves the disturbance of lead-containing surfaces is taking place.

Do not smoke, eat, or drink in the work area.

Preparation:

It is advised that the following steps are taken before starting work:

Remove furniture, curtains, and soft furnishing as far as possible. If this cannot be done, cover these and other permanent items (including flooring) with plastic sheeting sealed with heavy-duty tape.

Keep people out of the area.

Wear overalls, particulate filter face masks, and rubber or latex gloves in the work area, and remove this protective gear before leaving the area.

For outside working, contamination of the soil should be avoided. Cover all grass and garden bedding nearby with plastic sheeting. Avoid working in windy or wet conditions.

Removal:

To remove the old lead-containing paint, carry out one or more of the following:

To prepare surfaces in good condition (no flaking, loss of adhesion from the underlying surface) for repainting, the surface should be rubbed down wet with waterproof abrasive paper to provide a key for the new coat(s) of paint. The debris from rubbing down should not be allowed to dry out and form dust but should be removed with a damp cloth and the cloth, abrasive paper and any other debris placed in a plastic bag, sealed, and disposed of. Avoid any dust creation.

Walls and ceilings can either be treated with wall coverings or lining paper or by repainting, after the preparation stage has been completed.

To completely remove lead paint in poor condition, use a chemical paint stripper, ensuring that all instructions on the container are carefully followed. A suitable face mask to protect from fumes might be required but such masks will not protect against dust. Use a paint scraper and wet abrasive paper after wetting the surface. The surface should be kept wet throughout to avoid dust and flakes becoming air borne.

Clean up and waste disposal:

Vacuum all surfaces with a vacuum cleaner fitted with a high-efficiency particle air filter (HEPA). Thoroughly wash all surfaces, both those from which lead-containing paints have been removed and others in the work area. Allow to dry before applying new paint. Dispose of all debris, including cleaning cloths, masks and filters in plastic bags and seal with tape. Do not burn or incinerate lead-containing wastes.

For more details, visit www.bcf.org.uk

 

“The main risk is if the paint film is damaged, unsound, or flaking off, where lead-containing particles and dust may be inhaled.”