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Thread: Exterior painting - lead paint and what to do?

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    Exterior painting - lead paint and what to do?

    So we interviewed three painters and on the advice of our realtor, selected the middle priced candidate since he had used him before and thought highly of his work. Not one of the painters mentioned the recent EPA lead law that I found out about afterwards. We came home after the house was power-washed the first day to find literally millions of pieces of flaked paint all over the ground near the house. I did some web research and discovered about the EPA laws and potential dangers of lead. I was mortified because of the mess but didn't even think about lead. We are going on two weeks now and the painter is hit and miss on finishing with a half day here and some no shows. IN the meantime, all of this flaked paint has been tracked into the house, etc I am not sure if I should try to clean it up myself since there is so much of it or what. Any advice?

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    pinkytoe......what makes you sure that the flaked off paint contains lead? I may be wrong, but unless that paint is really old, it's unlikely to even contain lead. Unless that paint was applied prior to 1978, when the Federal government banned paints containing lead in or on residential structures, you really don't have worries on that score. At least that's what I understand. I could certainly be wrong, but.........

    Do you know when the house was last painted? If you do, and it was after 1978, it might allay your concerns. And even if it was painted before 1978, that doesn't mean that lead is present, as many paints did NOT contain lead, although back in the early 20th Century, lead in the paints was really common.

    Hopefully, what you have is a "mess" problem and a "painter juggling too many jobs" problem, and not a lead problem........

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    LC, the house was built in 1952 and within that timeframe some 67% of homes supposedly had lead-based paint. I have no way of knowing short of taking some of the chips to be tested. I guess it's just on more thing to fear so will clean up the mess and try not to dwell on it. If you read all the poop about lead paint and abatement though, they make it sound just awful.

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    Probably best to just clean them up and try not to dwell.......I agree. Certainly a danger if you have young children prone to putting paint chips in their mouths, or pets that try to eat them, but otherwise, probably not quite as disastrous as it's made to sound, I guess. Good luck!

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    The same thing happened when our house was painted. That's just what happens when a house is pressured washed. As previously posted, clean it up and don't worry about it. As long as it is not ingested it's not a problem.

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    Senior Member Rosemary's Avatar
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    Don't grow any food-bearing plants close to the house.
    Maybe you could use a shovel to grab most of the chips (I'm thinking dragging it along the ground) and bag them. Then you could take that to your city's household hazardous waste drop site.

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    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    Personally I think I'd clean up the paint chips and then get the soil tested for lead. (since water was used in getting the paint off the house lead may have leached into the soil quite quickly. I'm not an expert on lead so I have no idea if this is the case.)

    If the soil was in fact contaminated with lead my decision of what to do would depend on my plans. If I was going to continue living there I'd just not grow a garden in the soil since the danger of lead is really only if it's ingested. However, if I was planning to sell the house, which seems to be your situation, I'd look into abating the lead, or I'd at least be disclosing it to any serious potential buyers. Depending on the law you may not have the choice, you may have to do an abatement. Yes that could potentially be pricey, but look at it as if you were the buyer. Would you really want to be the person who bought the house, planted the garden, and 20 years later learn that your child's behavior and learning issues were because the person from whom you bought the house wanted to save a few thousand dollars so they didn't tell you about this?

    Also, I'd be looking at my homeowner's insurance policy to find out if lead abatement might be covered by it. If the policy is "all risks" or "open perils" as opposed to "named perils" there would have to be a specific exclusion for the insurer to get out of this. I wouldn't just accept your agent's negative response to an inquiry, I'd speak with a lawyer, asking them to review your policy, and fight for coverage if necessary. (assuming that the cost of abatement is worth the trouble).

    I'd also be prepared to bring the painters into litigation. They're the "experts" in this situation so they should have known this risk and prepared for it by doing something like putting plastic on the ground to catch the paint chips.

    I don't envy your situation, but I do think that you need to do the best you can to make the situation right.

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    Don't be a nervous nelly. The lead is contained in the paint chips, any lead that "may" have transferred into water would be in such a small concentration due to dilution shouldn't be a problem. Remember that not all paint gets removed when power washing and scraping. Lead as an additive to paint allowed it to stick well. Chances are that lead based paint was scraped or power washed away over 20 years ago the last time the house was painted. Most of the paint chips are probably non-lead based paint.

    Your homeowners policy excludes losses due to discharge of pollutants and lead is a pollutant.

    I would just pick up the chips and dust with a rake and shovel and put them into a trash bag and have them disposed with weekly trash. The levels of lead that "might" be there are insignificant as respects disposal.

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