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Mendo Lake Family Life

Lead Paint: Keeping Your Family Safe

Oct 27, 2006 12:00AM

According to the Mendocino Department of Health, lead poisoning is of great concern when repainting your home because you can disturb older, existing paint that may contain lead.

Homes and apartments built before 1978 contain lead paint, and when surfaces are prepared for repainting and other remodeling, hazardous lead paint chips and dust are generated.

Lead poisoning damages the brain, nerves and kidneys, and the damage can be permanent. Here are some tips to keep your family safe from lead poisoning when you are repainting your home.

  • Always test painted surfaces to see if the paint contains lead before beginning your project. You can use home test kits, available from most hardware and paint stores, or you can pay for paint chip analysis or x-ray fluorescence testing by a professional. Home test kits are quick and inexpensive but not fool proof; if the test fails to detect lead in a building built before 1978, you should also do a paint chip analysis to be sure.
  • If you find lead paint, the Department of Health recommends that you hire a contractor to do the repainting who is state certified to perform lead-related construction work.
  • If you decide to handle the repainting yourself, contact the Department of Health for instructions on how to do so carefully and safely.
  • Lead paint dust and chips should be cleaned up immediately, if discovered, using a wet mop and sponge to capture the dust and keep it from getting into the air. Remember to shower and wash your clothes, too. Should you discover a large lead dust problem, hire a professional clean-up crew to prevent contamination.

For more information on lead paint safety contact the Sonoma County Department of Health at 707-565-6565 or the Mendocino Department of Health at 707-472-2600.

For finding a state certified contractor or lead inspector, call 800-597-5323 or visit www.dhs.ca.gov/childlead .