To preface this--I'm a hypochondriac. But I think I may have good reason to be concerned this time around.
Briefly: bought a house six years ago that was built in the 1920s. Front porch paint has been chipped/peeling for years. Decided this was the summer to tackle it. Stripped down to what I thought was the bottom coat of paint and tested it with those LeadChek swabs from Home Depot--negative.
Went to work for the next 3-4 days using non-toxic strippers (Citri-Strip, Smart Strip) and scraping up the 4-5 layers of paint over the wood planks. I'd say 80% of the time, the paint came off "wet," soggy with the stripper, but I definitely noticed some dust being kicked up, especially when the Citri-Strip had dried.
Saturday: was down to a new, undiscovered layer of bottom paint, a cream color. Bought a sander and was ready to go to town but decided to test for lead again just in case. This time, it came up positive. Cue pacing and restless sleep.
Needless to say, I didn't sand. I sprayed the porch down with water, wet-scraped what little paint was still loose, and then used a deck wash to get rid of any dirt or grime, spraying most of the run-off on to a canvas tarp. Just ordered some EcoBond from Home Depot and will use that to encapsulate the porch before I prime and paint it.
I now have a phone call into my physician to see if I can get tested for lead in my blood. My question: how much should I worry, and how much is EPA hysteria? I wore an N95 respirator the entire time I worked--though I know N100 would've been better for lead--took off my work clothes/shoes before entering my house, and jumped in the shower immediately each time.
I also plan to seal my driveway and "trap" any residual paint chips that way. So--should I panic now, or wait until my blood results come back?