If you’re a homeowner and are renovating six square feet or more of painted surfaces in a room for interior projects or more than twenty square feet of painted surfaces for exterior projects and your home was built prior to 1978, below are a few important tips to help prepare your home and protect your family:

Dust is the main problem. The most common way to get lead in the body is from dust. Lead dust comes from deteriorating lead-based paint and lead-contaminated soil that gets tracked into your home. This dust may accumulate to unsafe levels. Then, normal hand to-mouth activities, like playing and eating (especially in young children), move that dust from surfaces like floors and windowsills into the body.  Home renovation creates dust. Common renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips.

Proper work practices protect you from the dust. The key to protecting yourself and your family during a renovation, repair or painting job is to use lead-safe work practices such as containing dust inside the work area, using dust-minimizing work methods, and conducting a careful cleanup, as described in this pamphlet.

Lead can also come from other sources.  Outside soil, your water, or household items (such as lead-glazed pottery and lead crystal) may also contain lead. Contact the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323) for  more information on these sources.

Work areas should not be accessible to occupants while the work occurs. The rooms or areas where work is being done may be blocked off or sealed with plastic sheeting to contain any dust that is generated. The contained area will not be available to you until the work in that room or area is complete, cleaned thoroughly, and the containment has been removed.

Since you will not have access to some areas of your home during your project, you should plan accordingly:

  1. Make arrangements in advance for an alternate bedroom, bathroom or kitchen if work is occurring in those areas of your home.  Arrange asafe place for pets because they, too, can be poisoned by lead and can track lead dust into other areas of the home.
  2. Create a separate pathway for the contractor from the work area to the outside, in order to bring materials in and out of the home. Ideally, it should not be through the same entrance that your family uses.
  3. Find a place to store your furniture. All furniture and belongings may have to be moved from the work area while the work is done. Items that can’t be moved, such as cabinets, should be wrapped in heavy duty plastic.
  4. Arrange to turn off forced-air heating and air conditioning systems while work is done. This prevents dust from spreading through vents from the work area to the rest of your home. Consider how this may affect your living arrangements.

You may even want to move out of your home temporarily while all or parts of the work are being done.

For a complete copy of Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers and Schools go to

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