Removing Lead Paint...How Dangerous?

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Removing Lead Paint...How Dangerous?

Postby wessieball on Wed Mar 10, 2004 3:51 pm

Ok. I'm confused over this topic. One person tells me one thing, another tells me something else.

I've got 3 doors, 4 windows and two rooms worth of baseboard to remove oil/lead paint from. If I use a stripper (citri-strip, removall, etc.) is there still risk of lead poisoning?

From what I've read, you'd have to breathe in the lead dust or consume chips for the lead to get into your bloodstream, right? I can't imagine how a stripper could release the lead into the air.

Any thoughts?
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Postby TimT on Thu Mar 11, 2004 10:38 am

FWIW, I am a certified lead inspector and old house owner. Lets see if I can quickly clarify some lead hazard issues.

First, dry scraping and heat guns are the worst. They both expose you to the worst form of lead (ingestion and inhalation).

The safer way to strip is using liquid stripers. They keep the dust from getting airborne and present a lesser hazard.

There is always a risk of lead exposure if lead paint is present. Try and work outside as much as possible (remove doors, etc.). The first rule in lead training classes is that we want to be 'lead safe' because it is very hard to be 'lead free'.

I can give you plenty of suggestions on proper handling if you would like but I would need some more details on what you are using/striping and your household status (kids, pets, etc.).

Good Luck,


Our House
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Postby wessieball on Thu Mar 11, 2004 12:01 pm

Well, the house is unoccupied and won't have any children living in it (unless I get married and have kids...not likely if I have any say over the matter :lol: ). It's a family owned house...hence it's a family project (well, my dad and I do about 90% of the work and everybody else picks up the slack). My mother will be doing the stripping which is why I want the procedure to be as safe as possible.

I'm stripping 4 large window trims (about 36"X72"), three door trims (including transoms) and two 10'X12' rooms worth of baseboard (the tall stuff). I'd leave the existing paint on but it looks awful. All of the hard edges of the detail have been lost. There's got to be several coats of paint on them.

What stripper should I use? What's the safest and most effective? Thanks in advance.
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How bad is it?

Postby Guest on Thu Mar 11, 2004 5:07 pm


OK, so you seem to know what you're talking about. What exactly are the hazards of lead poisoning? How much exposer does one need to get sick, die, learning disabilities (I'm not even sure what lead does to a person). I've always been told that the hazards are to children. Am I at risk as an adult? If I use a hepa (sp?) filter am I safe? How small do the paint partcals need to be to be a hazard.

I remember thinking that asbestos was the most dangerous thing on earth until I educated myself about it. The way people talk about it and react to it you would think breathing asbestos was like breathing cyanide gas. Now I know better.


Postby kristen russell on Fri Mar 12, 2004 3:03 pm

Be sure to pick up a NIOSH approved respirator just to be safe. The plain masks don't work too well.

You are right, stripping isn't dangerous like sanding. The stripper fumes can be an issue though. Just ventilate the area.

I hear there is an odor-free water based stripper that looks like peach yogurt (my mom saw it on This Old House.)
I am about to run out of stripper, so if I can find the odor free brand I will let you know. Stripper fumes make me dizzy. :-)

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Postby Guest on Fri Mar 12, 2004 5:44 pm

The stripper you are talking about from TOH is called RemoveAll. There is a RemoveAll 310 and a RemoveAll 320. I forget the difference at this time. Chemical strippers of any kind are just suck a mess. I get 95% off with a heat gun a clean un the small bits with the strippers.

I'm still curious about lead. I asked all of the questions earlier in this thread.


Postby Guest on Fri Mar 12, 2004 6:32 pm

I have used Removall 330 (Sold under the name of Hydrostrip 503 in some stores) to remove approx. 5 layers of lead paint from my windows and interior woodwork. It took me two coats to get down to bare wood. Its not a miracle product (none of them are), but I was quite happy with the results. It contained the paint and made is easy to scrape it off w/o dust. You double bad the removed gunk and then follow your city's requirements for disposal.

Cleanup was quite easy w/ water. The water cleanup is nice if you have a large project becuase it makes stopping and starting again easy. Although watch for raised grain in your wood. And clean up thouroughly after any work so your don't trapse lead dust through your house.

The chemical smells like rotten eggs, but is non-toxic. One thing I will stress is that you need to follow the directions exactly. If you buy the version that needs to be pressure srayed on....spray it on...brushing will not work.

Postby Chris on Fri Mar 12, 2004 6:54 pm

I'd like to hear Tim's answers to Greg's questions, too. I'm in a childfree house, but there are kittens about. And I try to take precautions, but you know how that goes sometimes on an ongoing project ...
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Postby kristen russell on Fri Mar 12, 2004 7:32 pm

I was told that pets are extremely sensitive to lead - more than humans are. But as long as cleanup is thorough and they're isolated when the paint is removed, you will be ok.
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Postby James on Sun Mar 14, 2004 10:09 pm

I would be interested in hearing just what the dangers to adults are too. Also symptoms of exposure, if any etc. I really don't have an issue with it at my house, except for the interior of the old kitchen building there is not any lead paint left here. Do remember a couple of years ago was on a crew of volunteers helping some friends paint there place, an 1840's greek revival that had not been painted in decades. Spent a day helping to scrape it. The old paint all came off, down to the bare wood. Do remember waking up the next day with a killer headache and being suprised I was that hung over from so little drinking, then later wondered if it was lead dust and not the beers. Still don't know which it was but would be curious to know if that would be a symptom of lead exposure.


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