Are you ready to repair your home safely?

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By Rossany Auceda, Iowa Department of Public Health

People often comment about Iowa having two seasons, winter and road repair.  Spring and summer are also the time of year for home renovations and repairs.

Before you get to work, first find out the age of your home.  If it was built before 1978, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommends you assume lead-based paint was used on the interior and exterior. Lead is a hazardous material that is known to cause serious health problems if ingested or breathed in.  If the paint on your home is cracking, chipping, or peeling, it means your house has lead-based paint hazards.  Regardless of the condition of the paint, know how to use lead safe work practices to keep you and your family safe during your renovation, repair, or painting project.

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Keep children and pregnant women away from areas where lead-based paint is being disturbed.  These areas should be taped or roped-off to keep family members out of the area.   Other lead-safe work practices include, covering floors, furniture, vents, and other items in a room with 6 mil plastic or other impermeable material; covering your skin with long-sleeved clothing and long pants; and wearing a respirator suitable for working with lead.  Also, keep surfaces to be sanded or scraped wet to prevent lead dust from becoming airborne and spreading, and clean the work area from ceiling to floor as soon as you are done for the day.  Once your project is complete, roll up the plastic and place it in the garbage bin. If possible, use a HEPA vacuum for any remaining lead dust and mop until drained water runs clear. 

Over the years, IDPH has found that many children have been poisoned by lead paint or lead dust after their parents or relatives have done construction work on their homes without taking safety measures to work with lead. Children breathe in or eat the dust when they put lead-contaminated toys, pacifiers, or other objects in their mouths.

To learn more on how to work lead safely, click HERE. You can also call the Iowa Department of Public Health at (515) 281-3225 o al 800-972-2026. Or visit us online at https://idph.iowa.gov/Environmental-Health- Services / Childhood-Lead-Poisoning-Prevention.

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