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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, everyone - this is my third post looking for advice on this project. The first two were very helpful, fingers crossed for this one.

So, I have an old turn of the century house with cracking, peeling lead paint on the exterior. I've tried a dozen different techniques to get it off so we can repaint, and by far the most effective method has been using this tool:

http://www.amazon.com/Metabo-LF724S-7-Inch-6-4-Amp-Stripper/dp/B009ATG28G

Sanding with this gets down to the bare wood quickly, and a standard electric circular sander takes off whatever it misses and works around the nails/trim/etc. I'm following all of these safety precautions:

1. The Metabo scraper is connected to a HEPA vacuum cleaner
2. The circular sander is also connected to a HEPA vacuum cleaner
3. I have canvas cloth reaching 10 feet out from the wall I'm working on
4. I'm wearing a Tyvek suit, an N100 respirator, gloves, and goggles
5. I bundle all my paint stuff up and stuff it in a bucket after working, then stick a lid on the bucket and keep it out of the way

But, despite all of this, I still worry greatly about the lead dust issue. I'm not terribly worried for myself - I spoke with my doctor about this beforehand - but my kids are present while I'm working, ages 5 and 4. They know to keep well away from where I'm working, but our lot isn't very big, so even standing in the middle of the yard means they're only 15 feet away. It's getting warm out here, so I can't very well seal off all of the windows and not run any fans or air conditioners either, so I'm not sure how much (if any) lead dust is getting in the house.

So, my question is - how worried do I have to be that ambient lead dust might get past the vacuum component, get into the air, and harm my kids? I have one last tool I have yet to try because of its cost, but if the consensus is that the lead dust issue is still serious enough to discard sanding as an option, I could try the Speedheater ($500), which strips off lead paint without lead dust.

BEFORE YOU RESPOND - Just today I took my son in for a lead blood test. I'll have the results tomorrow, and I'll know if his levels are elevated. So, there's no need to tell me to do that. But, I am still curious what everyone thinks on general principle. Second, I do not have the money to completely reside the house or (as one person suggested) demolish the house and build a new one.

Thanks in advance!
Matt
 

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Wow. Idk how much risk is still involved but I would be nervous too. Lead dust is so fine it's impossible to tell if your being completely safe.

Something I've done a few times to be extra careful about dust is to moisten the surface before sanding/stripping. There could be danger involved in using water around power tools as well, so keep that in mind of course. And sanding damp wood doesn't work the same as dry. But it can work well enough to get through the paint and then detail the wood later when it's dry.

Working wet is one of the main things EPA tells us to do with lead. Of course, they are meaning during scraping and hand sanding, not during power tool use. When scraping lead, having a helper stand by and mist the air surrounding the person scraping is a good way to keep down airborne dust. My thinking is that if the paint your sanding is damp, it's much less likely to crest airborne dust.
 

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One other suggestion I would make is to be extra careful with the canvas drop. The fibers of the canvas will be a good place for lead dust to hide. 6 mil plastic is usually used as a ground cover for this. With the plastic, you can be sure you clean up all debris after working and no dust remains in the cloth.
 

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How long have you been potentially generating lead dust? A few days, weeks? That would affect the lead exposure level of the children as much as the volume of dust that you may have accidentally released in the atmosphere and that may have settled on the lawn. Usually a significant amount of dust is quite visible and you would be aware of this, I think SOME dust is inevitable but I wouldn't be concerned...Your description sound like my project, and my kids tested fine, even after months of POTENTIAL exposure. Please post on the outcome of the lead testing...

PS: The suggestion about using plastic sheet is excellent. You should also establish a protocol for washing your clothes and sundries separately from the family's clothes, even if the tyvek suit will minimize dust on your clothes. Shoes for the job should stay outside.
 

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+2 on the plastic sheeting. Wrap, tape, and dispose when you're done. I know Home Despot sells it in 100' rolls, and assume other stores do, too. You could perhaps even use thinner, cheaper plastic overlaying your canvas drop cloth.

Really, you sound like you're being very careful. Vacuum and dust inside your house frequently, make sure your kids wash their hands and faces before eating, especially if they've been playing outside, don't wear your work shoes inside, wash your work clothes separately, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everyone. Still waiting on the lab results, I'll post them when I get them. My doctor's office tells me that last time he was tested a few years ago he was at 2 micrograms per deciliter, so anything higher than that indicates our preparation hasn't gone as well as we'd hoped. I'll switch to plastic rolls as everyone here suggested. My wife won't let me hear the end of that because she had initially said we should use those and I switched to canvas :p

Question - with all of this talk about misting, should I get an evaporative cooler or something and point it at the section I'm working on? Or would that make things worse by blowing the dust around and making the wood damp?

Thanks!
Matt
 

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We wet scrape if there is minimal failed paint, but if there is a lot of failed paint we use peel away paint stripper to remove the paint instead of using power tools. We do have hepa vacs and epa approved vacs, but chemically stripping greatly reduces the dust. I would also use and do use 6 mil plastic vs drop clothes.
 

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These tips will also help you in keeping lead paint residue away from home and kids. Wash floors, walls and other surfaces with soap and water and rinse with fresh water. Dispose of debris, towels and wash cloths in heavy plastic bags. Make sure that your kids wash hand before eating, after playing outside and at bedtime and never burn leaded debris, which will pollute the nearby area and again chances of inhaling lead, is high. You can also contact an environmental lab for a sampling kit or hire an independent lead professional. Lead dust levels should be not more than 40 micrograms per square foot on floors. If levels are higher, then clean the area again and reset.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Got the results back for my son - 3 ug/dl. So, that's one microgram higher than in 2012. What does everyone think? Is that high enough to warrant concern? We've sanded about half of one wall.
 

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http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/acclpp/lead_levels_in_children_fact_sheet.pdf

When did you move into this house and when did you begin disturbing existing conditions? The increase is significant but still below the concern threshold set by the CDC, I think you need to come up with a lead safe plan before continuing, also a plan to clean up whatever lead particulate may be in your kids environment at this time. I wouldn't panic as the lead levels are below critical, just do the right thing henceforth according to a good plan. Best,
 
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