• Safe Work Practices
  • You must protect yourself and your family from breathing lead dust created by renovation and remodeling projects.

  • Keep all non-workers, especially children, pregnant women, and pets outside of the work area while doing remodeling or renovation work until cleanup is completed.

  • Break large projects into several small projects so that you can control the amount of lead dust made.

  • Clean up after each phase of the project.

  • Wear a properly fitted respirator equipped with HEPA filters.

  • Wear protective clothing such as coveralls, shoe covers, goggles, and gloves to keep dust off your skin. Launder these items separately.

  • Change your clothes and shoes before leaving the work area to avoid carrying lead dust throughout the house.

  • Machine wash your work clothes separately from other family laundry.

  • Shower and wash hair right after finishing work to reduce dust contamination.

  • Do not eat, smoke, or drink in the work area to avoid accidentally swallowing lead dust. Wash your hands and face before eating, smoking, or drinking.

  • Dispose of used wash water down a toilet. (Check with your State lead program to make sure there are no regulations in your State that prohibit this).

  • Never pour wash water on soil.

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Figure 156: DO wear a respirator so you don't breathe in lead.

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Figure 157: DON'T wear dust masks - they won't protect you from lead.


  • Setting Up To Work Inside

Dust contaminated with lead can cling to your clothes and skin, to walls and floors, and to furniture and floor coverings. Forced-air heating and air conditioning systems also can spread dust throughout your home. To keep dust from spreading throughout your home, take the following safeguards:

  • Remove furniture, area rugs, curtains, food, clothing, and other household items until cleanup is complete.

  • A layer of polyethylene plastic sheeting, at least 6mils thick, should be placed on the floor and on the furnishings and exposed surfaces that cannot be removed, such as countertops and shelves. Cover openings, such as gaps around pipes, with a single sheet of plastic. All plastic should be secured with duct tape.

  • Turn off forced-air heating and air conditioning systems during renovation and remodeling. Cover vents with plastic sheeting and tape the sheeting in place with duct tape. Windows should be kept closed unless volatile chemicals will be used.

  • An airlock should be constructed at the entry to the work area. The airlock consists of two sheets of plastic. One sheet is completely taped along all four edges. The tape must extend all the way around the top, two sides, and the floor. This plastic sheet is then cut down the middle. The second sheet is only taped along the top and acts as a flap covering the slit in the first sheet of plastic. If two entryways exist, one should be completely sealed in plastic. As an alternative, the doorway can be taped closed on  all sides.

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Figure 158: Close off entryways with an airlock.


  • Setting Up To Work Outside

Exterior work often produces dust, paint chips, larger pieces of material, and liquids that contain lead. It is easy to track dust containing lead inside your home, where it can pose a hazard. Trash that contains lead also can contaminate the soil surrounding the house if you don't handle it correctly. To avoid contaminating the areas surrounding your house, take the following precautions:

  • If using a ladder, anchor it securely to the ground, not to the plastic which can be punctured.

  • If wind speeds exceed 20 mph, or if it begins to rain, stop and complete cleanup.

  • One lead-safe entryway should be made available to residents at all times. Do not treat front and rear entrances simultaneously if there is not a third doorway.

  • Cover the ground and any plants or flowers with 6mil polyethylene plastic sheeting to catch dust and trash. A single sheet of polyethylene plastic sheeting, at least 6 mils thick, should extend at least 5 feet from the base of the dwelling and an additional 3 feet for each additional story.

  • All windows, including windows in adjacent dwellings, within 20 feet of the work area should be kept closed.

  • Playground equipment, sandboxes, and toys should be moved at least 20 feet away from the work area. If items cannot be moved from the area, then they should be sealed with plastic sheeting.

  • Remove personal belongings from the area before starting work.

  • Carpet Removal

If you plan to remove or replace your carpet as part of a remodeling job, take the following steps to avoid spreading lead dust:

  • Mist the entire surface of the carpet with water to keep dust down.

  • Roll the carpet inward to avoid spreading dust to other areas.

  • Wrap carpet and pad in 6 mil polyethylene plastic sheeting. Tape seams closed with duct tape.

  • Vacuum floor with a HEPA filter-equipped vacuum cleaner after the carpet is wrapped but before you remove it.

  • HEPA vacuum the floor again after you remove the carpet.

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Figure 159: Mist carpet surfaces with water to reduce spread of dust.

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