Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wallpaper on Lead Paint and Lead Paint on Windows

After the initial lead paint panic and subsequent freak out, things have started to settle down and I'm able to be a little bit calmer about the lead paint issues in our house.

A few months ago we qualified for a grant with the county that pays for us getting some windows replaced in our house. We're sort of at a bit of an impasse. We have beautiful original windows on our house (it's hard to capture in a picture) and we want to preserve them as much as we can. Unfortunately, abating the lead means that we're going to have to change them in some way because windows are obviously high friction areas. We're going to be checking out some of the work that the organization has done on other homes where the owners has wanted to preserve as much of the original stuff as possible.

In the meantime, a quick update on the rest of the lead. Turns out that, other than the windows, we don't have nearly as much lead as a house built in 1927, which is good. There is some in the soil, which they recommend covering up with mulch or grass or stones. And there is some on a few walls, which are just sort of considered undisturbed surfaces.

The one area that I had really been concerned about was the front hallway. The hallway was covered in a few layers of wallpaper and then paint. Before we got lead testing, I did the scraping in that hallway. I took a few precautions, but probably not as many as proscribed by lead-safe work practices. I also got lead tested after we found out we had lead in our home. The good news is that I don't have lead poisoning.

So what did I do while scraping the wallpaper off of lead paint? I worked wet (very, very wet) with a very sharp blade. I sprayed all the surfaces with water both to get the wallpaper off and also to keep any lead dust down. I laid down plastic that I could just roll up and dispose of in a garbage bag tied with duct tape. I cleaned my clothes and myself immediately after I was done working. I did the whole thing in one day so that I didn't have to keep coming back and cleaning up.

Now, I'm not saying that that's fullproof or that that's even close to lead safe work practices (they would recommend sealing off the entire area, which I did not do), but it's what I did to get wallpaper off of a wall that I now know had lead paint and the levels of lead in my blood were negligible after that project. One of the reasons why I'm posting again on this is because when I was dealing with the whole wallpaper on lead paint issue, I did a lot of searching on the internet and didn't come up with much. Also, I took a lead-safe work practices class as part of this grant and even that class didn't cover this issue or how to deal with it. Again, not to say that I dealt with it in the best way -- just adding my experience to the mess of information.

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