Q&A: Cleaning up lead paint flakes after pressure washing
Q: My 18 m.o. daughter has a blood level of 6.8 ug/dL. What should I do?
Question: How do I clean up lead paint flakes everywhere outside from pressure washing Californian bungalow?
From: Linda, Warragul, Victoria, Australia Sent: Sunday, January 29, 2017
I am sitting in tears as I write this.
We have lived in a Californian bungalow for the past 11 years and have extensively renovated it inside during this time. We had just started to prep outdoors to paint and my husband was pressure washing the walls when he got a metallic taste in his mouth. He then stopped as he was suspicious and we got a lead test kit which came up positive straight away.
Unfortunately paint chips had scattered all through our vegetable garden and kids play area. We have 3 young children, the youngest only 3 months.
We had absolutely no idea that lead is such a horrible substance until I googled it on Friday and I am completely freaking out about the lead exposure that not only my husband and I have been exposed to over the years but also our children.
Where do we go from here?
We want to get someone to come and assess the lead levels both inside and out and to discuss our situation and how we proceed from here??
I am so glad I found your website and so much more needs to be done to make the public aware.
We watch home reno shows all the time and never has lead toxicity been mentioned.
Any help would be very greatly appreciated as I am ready to pack up and leave our beautiful house.
Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2017
I'm so glad you found our websites www.lead.org.au and www.leadsafeworld.com in your Google searching, and that you also phoned me for advice yesterday and ordered a Comprehensive LEAD Group Kit from our online shop www.leadsafeworld.com/shop last night.
While we were talking on the phone I recorded the following extra description of your situation:
"Warragul is about an hour out of Melbourne and this property was a dairy farm and where old petrol tanks may have been, we've put a concrete slab and shed over there. I'm wondering how we clean up the paint chips and dust that has fallen all over the ground outside, the trampoline and into the sandpit. The chook enclosure where the chickens free range is not near any existing or previous building. The chooks are right away from the house. My husband and I and my two older kids were blood lead tested by the GP this morning. We have a vege garden close to the house."
It sounded to me like you will be able to find an enclosed/encloseable area of ground on your property where you can bury leaded waste and cover it over with clean soil and ensure no animal or child ever digs it up. Once you've settled on a secure lead-dump location, use a shovel to take every speck of paint dust out of the sandpit (which may mean removing all the sand or just the surface sand) and dump that at the base of the pit. If you don't have a purchased covered plastic sandpit, or your sandpit doesn't have a frame of any kind to separate it from surrounding soil, it is time to construct a wooden frame for it and build a wooden frame fitted "lid" securely covered with builders plastic tacked or stapled to the wooden frame (so the wind doesn't blow other paint chips in during the clean-up, and snakes, spiders and vermin can't crawl in under any loosely-laid plastic sheeting frameless cover). Purchase new sand and place that in the sandpit, ensuring that the sandpit also is covered whenever the children aren't playing in it. Whenever the children want to play outside, ensure the sandpit lid is opened/removed by an adult, and closed/replaced by an adult immediately after play.
I hope you received my emailed instructions sent yesterday on the Three Bucket Cleaning System for wet-cleaning up any paint dust or chips which you cannot pick up by hand, and how to remove carpet lead-safely if you decide to remove carpets.
To immediately switch to lead-aware housekeeping and lead-safe renovation, I recommend you read that <Info Pack 3 - VIC Lead paint & ceiling dust management (includes carpet removal instructions)> email I sent yesterday, and also <Info Pack 38 - How to make your home and yard lead-safe> online at http://www.leadsafeworld.com/solutions/make-home-yard-lead-safe/
Once you receive your Comprehensive LEAD Group Kit in the mail, as I mentioned on the phone, take a dust wipe sample of any floor that your 3-month old will be crawling on later this year.
By sending dust wipes of carpets or rugs to our lab for lead testing, you will know from the results whether rug and carpet removal, before the baby starts to crawl, is recommended as your best option for primary lead poisoning prevention.
Use the Three Bucket Cleaning System on the trampoline and any other play equipment and in case any paint dust has settled on toys, machine-wash the machine-washable soft toys and cloth books and wash hard washable toys in the laundry tub using liquid sugar soap as the detergent, ensuring you rinse with clean water really well eg run the washing machine a second time with no detergent to rinse the soft toys. Curtains and bed-coverings should be machine washed in the same way.
Your beautiful house can be made lead-safe, but I take your point that if any of the renovation shows you watch had mentioned lead, you would not have all this work to make the house and yard lead-safe. Feel free to forward this email to any Renovation TV show and let them know that The LEAD Group aims to prevent lead exposure and much prefers it when people buy our Kits and test:
- their ceiling dust before demolishing ceilings or walls,
- their paint before stripping the paint or preparing it for repainting,
- their soil before they plant vegies or decide where to build a chook run,
- their water as soon as they get a rainwater tank or new taps (unless they sensibly buy stainless steel taps in which case there will be no lead coming from the taps and you would only need to test whether there is lead coming from the tank).
Re: "We want to get someone to come and assess the lead levels both inside and out and to discuss our situation and how we proceed from here??" Private lead assessors are extremely rare in Australia, and expensive. Most families can't afford them even if the lead assessor is willing to travel. That's how (and why) The LEAD Group sells LEAD Group Kits to take the place of lead assessors - the Kit system was donated to us by a lead assessor who found that he couldn't successfully run a home lead assessment business because people are not prepared to pay the full value of the service.
The LEAD Group's volunteers are what make the Kits financially viable - we don't charge for the time it takes us to administer the Kit system and write the reports.
I really hope you can recover quickly from this incident and get back to enjoying family life.
All the best
The Lead Education and Abatement Design (LEAD) Group Inc.