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Moving into old lead paint house. HELP with what to focus on for safety of kids.

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

We signed a lease on a beautiful old house yesterday. It has all been repainted inside and out and the paint is in good shape. However, when I swabbed the windowsill where there was a tiny chipped off spot, it turned bright red. So I know that there is lead underneath all that new paint. We haven't moved in yet, so I haven't had a chance to swab anything else, but I know the doors are old and so are the cupboards. On the windowsills I was going to use Child Guard encapsulating paint in case the kids grab onto the windowsills (I have a 3 year old and a 4 month old), but what is the safest course of action for doors and cupboards, since those surfaces encounter friction? Right now they are in good shape with the new paint over the top, but I am concerned. What do I need to do and what do I need to worry about?


Thanks in advance!

post #2 of 16

There is a long thread somewhere about moms dealing with elevated lead levels that has a lot of good information in it.  I don't know where you live, but your municipal government may have a program that assists landlords in doing lead testing and abatement.  How long do you plan to live in this house?  Did you know about the lead before or after you signed the lease? If it was after, you may have grounds for breaking the lease, and/or  it may be the landlord's responsibility to pay for the paint.  (I'm assuming you live somewhere where landlord tenant law is similar to mine.)  I'd even ask someone who knows about landlord tenant law in your area about that sort of thing.  Where I live, if there is a child under five living in the home, the landlord has certain responsibilities, and you may have more rights than you think.

post #3 of 16

It is not the paint on the trim/walls that is a problem it it the dust. If you love the place and are willing to expose your child to a LBP home environment I recommend having a Lead Risk Assessment performed along with some dust wipe sampling to see if there is a LBP risk for your child. Upon that report you'll have no difficulty knowing if to move in or not.


-Darren Spencer

State Certified Lead Inspector / Risk Assessor


post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

I plan to test all dust/paint surfaces within the childrens' reach. Because of our financial situation, moving and breaking the lease isn't an option. Neither is a professional assessment. I have looked into this before and it is just too expensive. The neighborhood we live in is all pre-war houses. I have been using the 3M LeadCheck swabs. We swabbed the windowsill after we signed the lease. The landlord is willing to pay for the encapsulating paint. I guess I was just wondering what I need to focus on. Just doors and friction areas? All walls and trim (they are in GREAT painting condition)? The porch has new wood and has been stripped and redone, so it is mostly the cupboards/doors that I think I need to look at. Is that correct? If the doorways have lead pain under the fresh paint but it is in good condition and my kid touches the doorway, could he absorb it through the skin?


Another concern I have is that the house is forced air heat. When we turn on the heat in the late fall, do I need to worry about lead dust in the air ducts? The last time renovations were done was in 2009, so there have been several seasons of the heat being on since any paint could have been disturbed.

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

Also, Darren, what is best to clean with around the house to keep dust off the floors? I heard Simple Green will pick up lead. Is that true?

post #6 of 16
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Wow. Amazing that Mothering can now be used as a Craigslist-style advertising site... These lead inspectors/contractors are using it to advertise their services... Very sad.

post #8 of 16

Baby wipes are great for cleaning hard surface for dust. Place them in a zip-loc bag to protect from cross contamination when done cleaning. Wash your hands when done.


Focus on all areas where the paint is not intact. Also all areas of friction are a concern, limit use of widows if they are causing friction. There are also products that can be inserted in window sash to protect the painted surface from friction damage.


There is also a product called "LeadOut" paint, it is suppose to safely remove the lead. I plan to run some test on the product and will have results posted. My thoughts are if it does work what will be next a health issue with the chemicals the product contains to remove the lead? An what about the VOCs.

Edited by seattleinspect - 7/28/12 at 12:16pm
post #9 of 16

What is sad is, that you did not have the information available or never did your own homework before putting your children in a house that could potenially  make them sick for life. We are not trying to sell you anything. Just offering all the information available to everyone so that they can protect their own children. Sorry if you misunderstood my post.

I only replied to a post " Moving into old lead paint house. HELP with what to focus on for safety of kids."

Every link I posted is full of information related to your post.


Lead safe Tampa

post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
I think it's incredibly ignorant to say that I didn't have information or didn't do my homework. It's also ignorant to suggest I am endangering my children by living in an old house. The paint in the house is in great shape and I am very educated about the dangers of lead. I know how to google. And I can google much more informative articles than your business site can provide. I was asking for practical advice from the community. One post doesn't qualify you as part of the community. I'm about information, not fear mongering for profit.
post #11 of 16

Use a Heppa filter on your vaccuum

Wash hands before eating

Dust by wiping with a wet soapy cloth


Friction points:

Windows and window wells are a big deal.  Your landlord can cover the wells with aluminum sheeting (required in rentals here in VT).  This covers the dust in the well and provides an easily cleanable surface,

Doors that rub: remove them, cut to a size that won't rub (outside away from play areas over plastic so you can discard the chips, etc)

Don't sand anything - too much dust!


Have your childrens lead levels tested to see if your efforts are working

Do check with your state or municipal gov for programs that might assist you.  it can be so helpful.


sorry to be so choppy - nak  :)

I've lived in both unsafe and safe old homes

post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much, Darren! Exactly the path I was going to take. Luckily, the windows are all new, so I don't anticipate any friction there. The windowsills I will be covering with Child Guard. It is said to be low in VOCs and contains that bitterex stuff in case one of my kids does decide to mouth a windowsill.....I am going to check all the doors and all the cupboards. Funny you should mention baby wipes. They've been my go-to-in-a-pinch clean up device for years. Thanks again!

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thank you blackbird! It's good that you were choppy, as you essentially gave me a list of what to focus on, which really helps me concentrate on what's most important. I super appreciate it!

I'll be calling the board of health on Monday.

I'm originally from NYC, where the city took any kind of lead extremely seriously. Now I am in Cleveland Heights (Ohio), where I am finding landlords do not follow the law or care. And almost every place I have looked at has had a problem. And I just don't see anyone testing or enforcing anything until AFTER a kid is hospitalized for lead poisoning, which is what I am trying to avoid. Where is the prevention??? Ridiculous.

post #14 of 16

Are the new windows those vinyl insert windows that basically cover the whole old window frame, so when you open the window, there is vinyl on the sides and in the well (bottom surface) of the window?  If that's the case, that's awesome.  Much safer that crusty old windows.


It sounds like the main concerns are making sure the paint remains in good condition, and reducing/eliminating friction points.  Beyond that, it's just basic cleaning techniques like I mentioned.


One other thought - also be aware of lead hazards in any outdoor play area around the house.  Basically stay away from any exposed dirt.  A good cover of healthy grass is fine.


You are so right about how much lead regulations/attention to lead hazards changes by state.  In my experience, Connecticut was like your experience in Ohio, but now I'm in Vermont, which is lovely.  We just participated in the state lead hazard management program, and we are very happy with it.  There are tons of homes out there with lead in them, and they can still be safe to live in.  But, we all need to know and understand lead hazards.  Public education and awareness is so important.  In an ideal world, you'd post a question like this and lots of parents would be easily able to post an answer with basic advice.  I also don't understand the reticence about testing.  When we were looking to buy a house, the general attitude was very anti-lead testing.  Just assume it has lead paint, everyone says.  Well, yes, of course, but it's so important to know where it is.  Does the painted staircase have lead?  (friction!)  Painted floors?  Or is it just that the walls have lead paint under there somewhere.  Anyway, I could go on and on.


It sounds like you're doing a good job of figuring out how to be safe.  Keep it up.  :)

post #15 of 16
Hi Mama! I am in the same boat! I just bought a HEPA sealed Miele vacuum but Electrolux makes a very affordable one that is also HEPA sealed. Many vacuums say HEPA but it has to also be sealed. And In my opinion use bags, because otherwise aren't you just getting re exposed all the time? I have heard Cascade detergent has Phosphates that bind to Lead.
post #16 of 16

We have an old house with 2 little guys as well.  We moved out 2.5 years ago because of a lead scare, have done some "coverup" work, and are getting ready to move back in.

However, before I step foot in the house w/ the kids I wanted to get a lead assessment done - I contacted the lead accessor and it costs $750 for him to come out!  That hurts!  And I don't need him to tell me we have lead - I know that, I really just want to sample for lead dust!  

He was SUPER nice and understanding and told me step by step what he would do, and homeowners can do the exact same thing (minus checking the air).  So I wanted to share:


He said the child guard encapsulation paint is the same paint contractors use in this situation.  He just worked on a job where that was used and here's how they did it:

-make the areas you are going to paint "free and clear" meaning no chipping paint.  If this means you have to work with the paint I would be SOOO careful and follow the EPA guidelines exactly.  

-Once you are ready to paint, put the child guard up.  At that time you can test.  

-After the tests come back, if positive at least you know EXACTLY (because you label everything) where and can deal with it.  Hopefully they come back negative.  

-Once they do come back negative you can paint over the child guard.




He uses ghost wipes and I ordered these from:

Environmental Monitoring Systems.  

They come in packs of 200...but that's all I could find.


The areas you want to test (you can test as many as you are comfortable with) but at least:

1. floor in entry way

2. floor by back door (or any other exterior door)

3. windowsills in childs room/living room (I would test every windowsill the child is going to have access to).  

4. Anywhere else you want to test. (for example, we have a built-ins we will be testing, and i'm testing the front porch)


Wear latex gloves when sampling.

You want to measure exactly a 12x12 space on the floors, for the window a 2x12 space or 2x18.  

You use the ghost wipe to wipe the area, then put it in a ziploc bag and label.  

You can also test soil samples - use a plastic spoon.  You can fill a ziploc about 1/2 way full.


The company who tests this is also very helpful.  Their name and number are:

EHS Laboratories


(800) 347-4010

They will tell you EXACTLY how to test, and they have a form to fill out to send w/ samples.


The cost of each sample is $8-$10 depending if you want a 3-day or 1-day turn around.

We are getting ready to sample...and I feel SO much better knowing that I can send in as many samples as I want, as many times as I want, a couple times a year if I want!  It feels like it has given me some control to dealing w/ this problem...

and I bought a very expensive vacuum!  


Good luck to everyone dealing with this.

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