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  • HVAC Ductwork

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system ducts can accumulate dust for many years. If you suspect that the dust contains lead, follow these steps when replacing or cleaning the ducts:

  • Cover the floor under the ducts with 6mil polyethylene plastic sheeting to catch dry falling dust.

  • Use a HEPA filter-equipped vacuum cleaner to remove dust from the inside of the ducts before beginning work.

  • Rinse the duct pieces in an area well away from the house before reinstalling them. If you are disposing of old duct pieces, first wrap them in plastic and seal with duct tape.

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Figure 160: Heating and air conditioning ducts can accumulate dust that contains lead.

 

  • Minor Repairs

If you plan to conduct minor repairs on painted surfaces, such as repairing or replacing a door lock, repairing a door, drilling holes to install shelves, or sawing into painted wood or plaster, then wet methods and simple cleaning can reduce hazards of lead dust:

  • Cover the floor under the work area with 6 mil polyethylene plastic sheeting to catch any sludge or dust.

  • Spray the work area surface with water to reduce the amount of dust generated during the minor repair.

  • To eliminate friction points on a door, first mist the door, then remove the door to plane it. Keep door surfaces being planed wet during repair. Replace the door when the work is complete.

  • Vacuum the floor under the work area and all surfaces within 5 feet of the work area with a HEPA filter-equipped vacuum cleaner.

 

  • Plumbing Work

If you are working on older pipes that contain lead solder, you should be concerned about lead hazards in plumbing. Disturbing lead-soldered pipes can dislodge pieces of lead solder that can get into your drinking water or come to rest in aerators or the bottom of pipes or joints. Follow these precautions to reduce lead hazards in plumbing:

  • Follow the practices outlined in the Minor repairs section when you break through walls or floors to reach pipes.

  • Use adequate ventilation to avoid inhaling dangerous fumes from soldering.

  • Promptly dispose of solder pieces in heavy-duty plastic bags when you finish plumbing work.

  • Use lead-free solder when working on drinking water plumbing.

After work is completed:

  • Remove faucet aerators and clean out any debris before re-installing them. Look carefully for grit or pieces of solder and remove them.

  • Flush the supply pipes you have been working on by letting them run for several minutes with the aerators removed. The water flowing through the pipes removes small pieces of loose solder.

  • Paint Removal and Floor Refinishing

Paint removal usually creates extensive amounts of lead and lead dust when using processes such as heat, chemicals, and sharp tools. It can be performed safely and effectively by following the precautions below.

  • The painted surface should be misted with water first. The paint may be removed by wet scraping or wet sanding with a HEPA vacuum attachment, or using a wet-sanding sponge. Wipe the area you are sanding often and rinse the sponge in a bucket of water.

  • Chemical strippers may be used to remove paint, but those containing methylene chloride are not recommended. Exercise caution when using paint strippers since they contain toxic chemicals.

  • Heat guns may be used to remove paint. However, do not use a heat gun operating above 1,100°F or open flame torches to loosen lead-based paint. Heating and burning lead based paint makes dangerous fumes and vapors.

  • For mechanical removal methods (such as HEPA vacuum blasting, machine sanding or grinding), use tools equipped with HEPA exhaust capability.

  • After removing the paint, wash the surface with a recommended cleaning product, rinse, and let dry before re-treating.

  • Preparing Surfaces for New Paint or Wallpaper

Preparing walls and other surfaces for painting, staining, or wallpapering can create lead exposure risks. With good work practices, you can reduce the risk of exposure to lead.

  • Cover the floor and furniture with 6 mil polyethylene plastic sheeting.

  • Avoid sanding lead-based painted surfaces whenever possible. If you must sand, use a sander with a vacuum attachment connected to a HEPA filter equipped vacuum cleaner, or use a wet-sanding sponge.

  • Wipe the area you are sanding often and rinse the sponge in a bucket of water. Strain out any chips of paint and dispose of them in heavy-duty plastic bags. Dispose of the used wash water down the toilet (check with your State lead program to make sure there are no regulations in your State that prohibit this). Wash the walls with a recommended cleaning product, rinse, and let dry before painting or wallpapering. Be careful while wet sanding because wet plastic can be very slippery.

  • Exercise caution when using paint strippers since they contain toxic chemicals. Chemical strippers containing methylene chloride are not recommended.

  • If you intend to feather or scrape the lead -based painted surface, spray the work area surface with water to reduce the amount of dust. For scraping, use a wet-scraper with a HEPA filter-equipped exhaust.

  • Do not blast or power wash lead-based painted surfaces. Blasting and power washing create large amounts of dust and waste water that contain lead and can contaminate large areas.

  • Removal of Large Structures

When you demolish and remove large structures painted with lead-based paint, such as walls, door frames, floor coverings, and ceilings, you are likely to be left with large amounts of dust and trash that contain lead. To reduce exposure to large amounts of lead dust:

  • Seal off the work area by covering entryways with 6 mil polyethylene plastic sheeting.

  • Cover nearby windows with 6 mil polyethylene plastic sheeting.

  • Turn off forced-air heating and air conditioning systems. Then cover heating and air conditioning vents with a layer of 6 mil polyethylene plastic sheeting.

  • Remove rugs and furniture from the work area, if possible.

  • Cover the floors and the furniture in the work area and adjoining areas with 6 mil polyethylene plastic sheeting.

  • Wet the surface and debris as you demolish it to keep dust levels down.

  • Remove and dispose of trash properly. Allowing debris to accumulate in the work area increases the risk of spreading dust through the house.

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Figure 162: Wear protective clothing and a respirator when removing walls that may contain lead.

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