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QUESTION: How do you clean lead dust off books and electronic items such as stereo, playstation, TV etc? 07/10/09 South Denmark / Syddanmark, Denmark / Danmark

I have used the Abotex Lead Inspector lead test kit in my old apartment, and found some of the inner layers of paint on windows and doors positive for lead.

There are a few problems. One problem is, that some of the windows have chipping paint that contains lead. I have found good instructions and advice on how to handle and deal with this many places.

Another problem is the doors in the apartments. They are also old, but some of them are binding. Especially one door is binding a lot. I just found out recently, and noticed a layer of very fine thin dust on door and doorframe around the place where they rub each other each time the door is being opened and closed.

The door leads to a very small room, so small that is not really a room, but a closet. In the closet shelves are installed, and I keep all of my books, cd's and dvd in there. All these items are therefore very close to the "dust source". I've been living there for a year now, and placed the books there thinking they in general would be protected from too much dust (even before I knew about lead dust from paint). Each time I've opened and closed the door, a little bit of lead dust from the paint must have been released, and settled on the books, cd's and dvd's in the closet too. It's been like that for a year. Even though it's not that visible on the items in the closet, there must be some dust I imagine?

Right outside the closed door, are my television, playstation and stereo placed.

Lead dust must also easily enter electronics through the ventilation grids on top, and stay inside, since you cannot clean there...

I therefore have these two questions, that really bugs and worries me.

1. Lead dust in and on books:

What can I do with the books and CD's/DVD's (especially the books)? Iím thinking I can vacuum them on all exterior surfaces (I have a consumer vacuumer with a HEPA filter) and after that, maybe flipping through the pages a couple of times, outdoors - but would that be enough? Wet cleaning seems problematic on books. I wish them to be safe enough for my future children (and everybody else including myselv), to use and be around without special precautions.

2. Lead dust in electronics (like a television, playstation, stereo and

other electronics with ventilation grids)

Is it okay to have some lead dust "inside", or is it necessary to get the devices professionally cleaned? Again, it's not huge amounts of lead dust, but still there must be some...

I have found a lot of good guides on how to clean up lead dust in general, but no one mentions what to with items like books and electronics. I hope you maybe can help me a little bit how to deal with this.

Thank you for a great informative web-site,

yours faithfully

Martin

ANSWER: Oct 12 2009

Dear Martin,

thanks for your interesting and unusual inquiry.

It is recommended when cleaning lead dust off books that you should NOT open the book at all. Opening the book will allow the dust on the outside of the book to get in between the pages of the book. If you have the space to get your vacuum attachment head on to all the revealed surfaces of the books without moving the books at all, then that is what you should do. This stops the dust from the top of the books getting onto the cover of the book that is hard up against the cover of the next book and so on. If you can't get the HEPA vacuum cleaner head on to all the revealed book surfaces, then you should follow-up the partial vacuuming with wet-wiping the revealed surfaces of the books. In other words, use a wet cloth and a good detergent and keep rinsing out the dust from the cloth as you go. Wet-cleaning the bookshelves and floor and other hard surfaces around the closet door will also be more effective than just vacuuming them.

As for the electronic equipment, the reason that you will find instructions for cleaning the dust out of computer boxes is that, except for Macs, they have a fan which unfortunately draws dusty air into the computer box at the same time that it is expelling the warm air (in the effort to keep the temperature of the box within the working range). It is highly dangerous to open up any cathode ray tube (computer screen or television) to attempt to vacuum dust out of it, even if the CRT is unplugged, so there is no cleaning recommended for the inside of a CRT - but nor is there likely to be much dust in there (because of the lack of a fan). The outside surfaces of any unplugged electrical device can be carefully de-dusted using a damp cloth with a good detergent.

If the Playstation or stereo really have a lot of dust in them, you may be able to open them up and carefully use a vacuum cleaner to remove the dust, but, again, wet-wiping the outside is going to stop the majority of the lead dust from getting into you.

The final arbiter of whether you need to do more cleaning, is the blood lead result of the most susceptible person who might come into contact with the dust. If only adults have access to these dusty items, and if they don't have nail-biting or thumb-sucking behaviour and they do wash their hands before eating, then the likelihood of this paint dust actually getting into anyone is minimal. If after the clean-up I have described, the most at-risk person who touches these items has a blood lead result above 2 micrograms per decilitre, THEN you would need to do more research on where else their lead is coming from. This known source may not be the only source of lead.

I hope this helps.

All the best

Yours Sincerely

Elizabeth O'Brien

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