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Any effort to remove or encapsulate lead paint or to replace components covered with lead paint can create lead dust. Lead dust is dangerous to workers and occupants because it is easy to ingest and inhale. Dust generation and deposition was a major problem with earlier efforts to abate flame burning and dry scraping with no containment of cleanup. From a health and safety perspective, it is important to protect workers from the harmful effect of lead dust during abatement, and to ensure that occupants are exposed to lowered amounts of lead dust after they move back into an abated apartment.

Post-abatement cleanup of lead dust can be difficult and must be done with care. Even with careful containment, it may be quite difficult to clean up after abatement methods that generate large amounts of dust. The difficulty of providing protection for workers and tenants when such dust-generation methods are used must, however, be balanced against the fact that these methods are often less costly and more easily performed with unskilled labor. The Guidelines therefore do not reject to use of strategies such as on-site paint removal, but require that such.


Human beings are exposed to lead from numerous sources, such as paint pigments, automobile and industrial emissions, surface and ground water and some forms of solder. While adults may suffer various ailments due to excessive lead in their blood, the groups most at risk from exposure to lead are fetuses, infants, and children under seven. Since the fetus is at risk from high blood lead levels in the mother, pregnant women and women of childbearing age also must be aware of the hazards of high blood lead levels.
Excessive blood levels can seriously damage a child's brain and central nervous system. Lead poisoning in children can cause attention span deficits, impaired hearing, reading and learning disabilities, delayed cognitive development, reduced IQ scores, mental retardation, seizures, convulsions, coma, and even death. In adults, high blood-lead levels may increase blood pressure and have other effects. The current Centers for Disease Control (CDC) criterion blood-lead level for children is 25 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (ug/d!); however, recent research has indicated that blood-lead levels as low as 10 to 15 micrograms per deciliter can cause adverse health effects in fetuses and children under 7 years of age. Blood lead levels in excess of 30 micrograms per deciliter are of concern on abatement works and other adults especially women of child-bearing age.


Removal is the stripping of the lead containing paint and its elimination from the premises. This is, by far, the most preferred and desirable method since it is the complete and permanent solution to a lead dust problem. However, lead dust removal is also the most costly since it involves technical equipment and stringent worker procedures to ensure safety.

To understand why abatement costs seem high is to understand what is involved. For example in removal, the basic course of action will include the following:

  • Containment barriers must be constructed around the work area.
  • Air locks are built in for entry of personnel and equipment.
  • A decontamination facility must be set up because workers must wash every time they leave the work area.
  • Workers are required to wear respirators and disposable suits.
  • Containment barriers must be continually inspected for tears and must be repaired immediately.
  • All workers must have continuous blood tests for lead levels.
  • Continuous air monitoring must be maintained inside the work area, outside the work area, and on removal by personnel.
  • All debris is placed in secure containers and is taken by a verified waste hauler to an approved disposal site.
  • Thorough cleanup must be done after removal which includes air filter vacuuming and wet mopping of all surfaces. All barriers are disassembled and disposed of as hazardous waste.


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