crumbling lead paint on a wooden post

Lead? It Go! Lead-Safe Home Renovation Guide

Lead? It Go! Lead Safety Home Renovation Guide

Did you know that if your home was built before 1978, it is highly likely to have lead in it? It’s true! Lead-based paint is estimated to have been used in more than 38 million homes until 1978 when it was banned from residential use. That’s why it’s critical to arm yourself with important safety information when planning a renovation for a pre-1978 building. Most people are aware that lead exposure in children, especially those under six years old, can be deleterious to their health. Lead exposure can lead to cognitive disabilities and behavioral problems in children because it affects their brains and nervous systems. But lead is also harmful to adults. According to the EPA, lead exposure can cause high blood pressure and hypertension in adults, and pregnant women exposed to lead can transfer the toxic metal to their fetuses. Yikes!

With a relatively old housing stock here in Rhode Island, many homes are likely to have some level of lead present. Folks can help minimize the risk of lead exposure by regularly cleaning floors, window sills, and other surfaces. Removing shoes when entering the home or wiping them off before going inside is also a good habit to adopt. But when renovating a lead-laden home, the risk of exposure goes up because of the amount of fine dust particles created.

blue lead paint chipping off a wall
Lead paint is known to chip off, and sometimes, particles can become airborne or settle on food.

Don’t Get Left in the (Lead) Dust

Lead tends to latch onto dust particles. Creating dust in a renovation project is inevitable. Thus, if you know your home has lead in it, it’s vital that proper lead-safe work practices are adopted by your contractor when renovating. In fact, federal law requires builders to follow specific work practices when disturbing painted surfaces in homes built before 1978.  Builders are even required to give homeowners informational pamphlets that describe what these practices are when starting a renovation. This helps make sure everyone is on the same page about mitigating lead exposure, and if you’re unsure about your builder’s lead safety certification, you can verify their status on the EPA’s website at When you start a project with Red House Design Build, you can rest assured that our entire team is well-versed in best practices for working around lead.

Lead-safe work practices include sealing off work areas with plastic sheeting to contain generated dust; avoiding certain work practices that might generate excessive dust like using heat guns or sanding without the use of a HEPA filter; and thoroughly cleaning the work site daily to minimize build-up. If you’re interested in learning more, Red House is always happy to talk you how we employ these practices in our home renovation projects. Or, feel free to call the EPA’s Lead Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).

In the meantime, and because thinking about lead in the home can be a bit of a downer, here’s a helpful song about what to keep in mind when renovating a home with lead in it. Enjoy this to the tune of the popular song, “Let it go” from the hit movie, “Frozen.”


crumbling lead paint on a wooden post
If your home was built before 1978, it’s fair to assume that there’s probably lead inside.

Lead? It Go!

You saunter up to your century home
Peeling paint chips on the ground
The renovation starts tomorrow
And your heart begins to pound
A hidden heavy metal coats the walls inside
Gotta keep it in; lead dust can’t abide

Builders should know; make sure you ask
Are they licensed for the toxic task?
Don’t wanna see dust or debris
‘Cause it harms meeeeeee!

Lead? It Go! Lead? It Go!
Gotta cover up all the floors
Lead? It Go! Lead? It Go!
And shore up all the doors

You should care what your builders say
If you wanna learn more
It’s always free to call the EPA

It’s funny how some knowledge makes everything seem great
There’s probably lead in buildings built before
If you don’t know what you can do
Test the levels, deep cleaning too,
HEPA filters can help you be

Lead? It Go! Lead? It Go!
Don’t forget to seal the vents
Lead? It Go! Lead? It Go!
And pitch your plastic tents
You should care what your builders say
If you want to learn more…

If you’re concerned, the EPA has a hotline
1-800-424-LEAD, and there you’ll surely find
Best practices, who’s certified, and best for last
All things on how to make lead a part of the past!!!

Lead? It Go! Lead? It Go!
Proper air filters are a must!
Lead? It Go! Lead? It Go!
Mitigate that lead dust
You should care what your builders say
And If you want to learn more…
It’s always free to call the EPA


If you got a kick out of that but want to learn more, give Red House a call today, and let’s talk about how to keep lead exposure down for your next home renovation!

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