Lead based paint cleanup question

missouri1April 4, 2009

Our house is coming with a lot of the lathe and plaster tore out and dust everywhere. We now will have to complete the process and do clean up. Hiring out isn't an option so we need to go about this the best way we can. I haven't tested but the house is a probable lead harborer, it is from the early 20's. We can use masks but I am wondering if there is any particular vacuum we can use to suck out the dust or some kind of room filter to use. We won't have power in the house yet but we have a generator we can use for power. My main interest is in vacuuming or sucking out the dust, I think I know what to do about the rest of it.

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I would first check what your state/local regulations are regarding lead paint removal/disposal, etc. You really don't want any surprises weeks, months or years in the future.

Removing plaster and lathing is a miserable job and cleaning up the dust and grit residue is not easy. I'd use a heavy duty shopvac type vacuum. Make sure to equip it with a HEPA filter bag - these are available in many sizes. Without such a filter you'll wind up dispersing fine dust into the air and quickly destroying the vac motor.

Industrial cleaning supply places sell sweeping compounds. These can be used after an initial vacuuming and are helpful in getting up the last of the fine dust - don't sweep, however, use the vac again. Don't try to mop up the dust with any sort of water solution. Rewetting the plaster dust allows it to seep into wood and other surfaces and once it dries it's nearly impossible to remove.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 5:35AM
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Hope there are no children on premises - that dust is everywhere - lead is actually heavy & settles virtually everywhere when disturbed -

Hepa vac & filter, proper mask, Wet mop/wipe following proper vacumming TSP (trisodium phosphate) - found at hardware store.

Link below is helpful

Good luck

Here are some links

Here is a link that might be useful: lead paint abatement

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 10:45AM
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You need TSP for cleaning lead dust. The phosphate binds the lead to it, captures it. It is getting hard to find TSP any more, though.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 10:57AM
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I do LBP work for a living. I don't know if your state has lead standards above the federal...so you should check into that first. I see your username has missouri in it...and if you are in or near St. Louis, you really better check into local regs, because my lead training includes St. Louis and they are quite stringent....I just don't know about the rest of the state outside the Lou.

You could use a hepa vac for visible dust, but don't depend on lead dust to be picked up sufficiently with a vac. The dust is heavy and settles to the ground & surfaces pretty quick. You should use drop cloths and be extremely careful about tracking the dust around on your shoes.

As stated above, you need to wet-clean the surfaces to get the lead dust off. Vacc-ing is a good start, but not near enough.

You should also make sure you are constantly changing your mop heads and mop water or you will just be redistributing the lead residue.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 4:58PM
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Im not finding a hepa vac, can someone help me with that? All I am finding is a shop vac with hepa filter and regular bags for drywall dust.

gayle, My house is on the other side of the state, St. Joe.

The house already has dust everywhere and pieces of plaster. A good amount of the interior walls downstairs has already been removed by the previous owners. There is a huge amount of dust on the floors.

Will TSP harm the hardwood floors?

Where do I look to find lead standards?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 12:04AM
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There is a woman who posts on the forums at oldhouseweb.com and she's in St. Joe. She is very involved in old home restoration and should be a good source for local info. The screen name to look for is angolito.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 9:24AM
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A quick search -hopefully one of these can help

I think a good hepa vac is $$$$$ - see if you can rent a good one




    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 11:49AM
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The best vacuum cleaners, with regard to output filtration, are made in Denmark, by Nilfisk. These vacuums are used in industrial environments, where hazardous dusts are cleaned up. This brand is relatively expensive, as you might expect. I do not work for Nilfisk, and I don't own any of their stock, either. However, I did spend some time in Copenhagen back in the 1980's.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 12:12PM
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The Festool C22 shop vac comes with hepa filters. I have one at home, we use one at work, they are excellent, quiet, versatile vacuums. The Fein shop vac is also an excellent tool and can be fitted with an optional hepa filter. Be warned, they have shocking price tags, but they are real tools, and very unlike American vacuums.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 12:23PM
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You don't need a HEPA vacuum cleaner; only a HEPA filter bag. These are available for Shopvac and Sears vacuums and no doubt others.

I would stand by what I wrote before about not using water based products for the clean up. When you rehydrate plaster dust some dissolves into a solution that seeps into porous surfaces like wood. Once it dries, it's impossible to remove from the pores in the wood. Water is also never a good option for wood floors. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum, then vacuum some more. A mop just barely dampened with an oil or solvent based cleaner can be a final step.

There are relatively inexpensive lead test kits on the market. Many plaster walls from the 20's were designed to be wallpapered - no real finish plaster coat - and were never painted so there may be no lead involvement in the plaster at all. Check.

It is far more likely that woodwork and other painted surfaces harbor lead. The procedures here will differ.(Encapsulation is often a better choice than scraping or sanding). You've already torn down the plaster and lathing, so clean up of that is your present priority.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 4:51PM
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If you use a bag filter, you are depending on it not tearing, which requires careful fitting and monitoring. These shopvac bags are notorious for tearing.
Vinegar/water solution is just the ticket for cleaning up lime plaster dust.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 6:33PM
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Thanks for all the great info, I've been looking into everything.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 1:19AM
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No advice, but if you decide on TSP, I just bought some at Home Depot, so it is available.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 6:27PM
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"These shopvac bags are notorious for tearing."

Get a CleanStream after market filter.
No bags involved and they can be washed.

"Âbut if you decide on TSP, I just bought some at Home Depot, so it is available."

Depends on local laws.
TSP is NOT available in Fairfax County, Virginia.
It IS available in neighboring Arlington County, Virginia.

The Âno phosphate folks have gotten it banned in a number of places.

While you could have lead pigment in flat wall paint, most of the lead is from lead acetate (AKA Âsugar of leadÂ) that was used as a dryer and gloss improver for gloss paint commonly found on trim.

Walls are normally flat, except kitchens and closets.

There has been a huge drop in child lead poisoning that just happens to coincide with the removal of lead tetraethyl from gasoline.

While it is possible to get lead poisoning from paint chips and dust, breathing the byproducts of burnt lead tetraethyl was a daily occurrence 24 hours a day.

Or maybe country kids rarely ate paint chips?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 7:26PM
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Of late I had been seeing a product called "TSP substitute" so I feared that it had been blacklisted by EPA.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 9:31PM
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