10 Essential Questions About Lead Paint Removal
Nowadays, many of us are – quite rightly – becoming more and more concerned about health, safety, and overall wellbeing both at home and at work. At Soda Blasting Ltd, we’ve noticed that the number of enquiries concerning the removal of lead-based paints and varnishes is on the rise.
It’s with this in mind that we’ve put together this handy guide to some of the most commonly asked questions about lead in paint, the dangers it poses, and how we at Soda Blasting Ltd deal with lead paint removal projects.
When was lead paint generally used? When did it fall out of common usage?
Paints and pigments containing lead were commonly used up until the 1960s when the dangers of lead became more well-known. It understandably started to fall out of favour and was eventually banned for sale to the general public in 1992.
Why was lead included in paint in the first place?
There are a variety of reasons why lead was considered a useful ingredient. Different types of lead helped to pigment certain paints, especially white and cream shades. Lead was also added to help make paint dry faster, resist moisture, and provide a durable finish. However as its health risks became more well-known, other safer compounds started to be used instead.
Why is lead paint dangerous?
When a surface coated with lead paint or varnish starts to crumble or degrade, it releases tiny lead particles into the air, which may then be inhaled – thereby entering the body. Alternatively, children may pick at a crumbling or flaking surface, with some even putting the flakes or dust in their mouths.
Lead exposure can result in a number of potentially serious health complications, with those who undergo prolonged and continued exposure being particularly at risk. Exposure to lead is particularly dangerous to children and pregnant women, but it’s important to remember that lead poisoning can affect anyone who inhales or ingests it regardless of age or medical history.
Are there any types of buildings or fixtures that are most likely to be painted with lead paints?
Unfortunately lead paints could potentially be present in any residential or commercial property built prior to 1992. DEFRA suggests that the could be a good guide; if the building was constructed in the 1960s or earlier and has original coats of paint, there’s a good chance there could be lead paint around somewhere. If your building was built later than 1992, there shouldn’t be any lead paint present.
Prior to 1992 (and especially before the early 80s) lead could be found in all kinds of paints and surface coatings, including regular interior wall paint, wood paints and varnishes, masonry paint, and metal paints or coatings.
From our perspective at Soda Blasting Ltd, we find that the regularity of lead paint removal enquiries is increasing; but many people are still unaware of the sheer dangers of lead paint and the care needed for its safe removal.
What advice would you give to those who suspect they may have lead paint on their premises?
If your building does feature some lead paint, you may not necessarily have to panic. Lead paint becomes a threat when the surface gets old and starts to crack or crumble, or if the surface’s integrity is in any way disturbed. If the lead-painted surface is likely to be interfered with (e.g, being brushed, knocked, picked, or chewed by children or pets) it can release dangerous lead-containing particles into the air.
When you’re embarking on any kind of renovation or redecoration in an older building, you need to consider the potential presence of lead paint, no matter how small your project may be.
If your surface is not crumbling and generally is in good condition, suggest simply sealing it in with an overcoating of modern paint.
However, if you have any concerns about a surface on your premises – especially if you have or are expecting a child – it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you’re in any doubt, seek out the advice of a professional lead paint removal service like Soda Blasting Ltd.
How do you find out whether a surface contains lead paint?
For smaller projects (i.e., those with only a few surfaces in need of testing) a lead testing kit is used. A small cut is made in the painted surface with a knife, and the broken area is swabbed and tested. The kit provides a conclusive result in 30 seconds or so. We can document the results of any lead test if you so require.
Larger projects with multiple different walls and surfaces in need of testing will most likely require examination by a specialist lead surveying company in order to produce safe, accurate, and timely results.
What safety measures and procedures do Soda Blasting Ltd use when removing lead paint?
If we find that lead paint is present, only our operatives are allowed to enter the area during removal. Lead particles are most dangerous when they’re airborne, so our staff all wear air filtration/breathing masks when removing lead paint. They may also wear other safety apparatus required by the cleaning method in question (e.g., ear defenders). If the project allows, we may also use water-suppression methods to “damp-down” the dust, helping to control the spread of the particles.
When embarking on a lead paint removal project, be aware that clean washing and eating areas must be provided for our workers; this can be a welfare vehicle or a clean facility away from where the work is taking place. The remnants of removed paint are moved into covered skips and must be disposed of by a specialist disposal firm.
What types of blast cleaning do you use to remove lead paint? Does the choice of method rely on the presence of lead paint?
The presence of lead paint doesn’t impact the cleaning method we use, but it does impact the safety measures we have to follow during the cleaning process. We decide what cleaning method to use depending on the type of surface in question and the finish we are removing; in order to remove paints and varnishes, we typically use soda blasting, glass media blasting, or steam cleaning.
What regulations are out there relating to lead safety in the workplace?
There are a number of regulations in place to keep workers safe from all kinds of lead exposure, not just exposure through paints.
The Control of Lead at Work (CLAW) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/2676) states certain responsibilities that employers have to their staff to prevent or control their exposure to lead.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) details the “management of health, safety and welfare when carrying out construction projects”, including hazardous materials.
Are there any other resources out there to help keep me and those around me safe?
In terms of lead safety at home, DEFRA have provided about lead paint in the home, and some local authorities may have online resources relating to avoiding lead pollution, such as this thorough guide from
If you have a surface that you think may contain lead-based paints or coatings, get in touch with the experts at Soda Blasting Ltd. Our friendly team are dedicated to achieving safe and satisfactory results for every one of our customers, and can arrange a site visit to suit you. So give us a call on 0800 774 7632 to discuss your options today.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is provided only as a guide, and should not be considered as health or safety advice. Soda Blasting Ltd will not be liable for any loss, litigation, damages, injury, or illness relating to the display or use of this information.