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Old 08-28-2016, 08:01 AM  
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Default How to tell if my house has lead paint or asbestos?

My house was built in 1973. How do I check?

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Old 08-28-2016, 08:58 AM  
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I've seen some DIY test kits for lead based paint.
Asbestos; you have to recognize or send out for testing.

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Old 08-29-2016, 02:03 AM  
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73 isn't likely to have either issue but anything is possible. US EPA now demands that any residence built before 76 be handled as if it has lead paint, with signage, access control, isolation of work area, and HEPA air filtration if you do any sanding, stripping, or demo. Plus a comprehensive lead paint test is mandatory on everything now, and not the cheap DIY kind. You really don't need all that.

They started phasing lead out of paints in the 60's, so the walls will be OK. If it worries you, then check the trim as some trim paints (mostly high-gloss alkyd oils) contained lead into the 80's. Most semi-gloss latex was fine, and that's the most common scenario. As long as you're not sanding lead-bearing paint, it you can safely paint over it. If you've got copper water pipes they will have been soldered with lead-bearing solder, but again it's not necessarily an issue unless you're worried about it. Personally I think it's more of a "lead scare" than a real problem because we've been working with lead-bearing products for 100+ years and nobody in the building trades seems to have come to any harm from it.

Asbestos in that house would only be found on pipe insulation or in vermiculite wall insulation. If the pipes are encased with a semi-rigid white wrap about 2"-3" in diameter, that might be asbestos. Especially if it's dusty to the touch. Test that and if it is asbestos you need to wrap it in tape-sealed poly or have it removed. Vermiculite is like sand flakes, and as long as you can't see it under outlet plates or in the attic where it was put in the walls you're probably OK. If you do see it, have it tested as half of it is pretty bad, and the other half not too bad. Removal of all vermiculite is your best option as all of it is dusty and can cause silicosis from long exposure. There's better insulation's now anyway.

Use common sense when working on any house. Dust masks and at least a fan exhausting from the room when sanding or doing demo, a vacuum with good filtration for clean-up, and containment so the dust doesn't leave the work area are always wise. Your lungs are very easily harmed by a lot more than lead or asbestos and these simple measures will cut your risks in half or less. Simply having lead or asbestos around without ingesting it isn't harmful, but when enough gets inside your body it can be. Choose what level of safety you're comfortable with and go from there.

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Old 08-29-2016, 10:51 AM  
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Originally Posted by farmerjohn1324 View Post
My house was built in 1973. How do I check?
You don't have any lead in the paint. Don't worry about the EPA. They came up with a lot of nonsense but were cut off at the knees by being denied funding to enforce it. If you are doing a lot of sanding, wear a dust mask to keep the dust out of your nose and lungs, but don't be paranoid. Unlikely you have asbestos, and even if there is some it's not any kind of "death dust".
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Old 07-29-2017, 01:51 PM  
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Default Send it to a lab if you want to know

I realize I'm resurrecting a thread from nearly a year ago, but I'm writing for the next person that comes across it.

I bought a home last year that was built in 1967. I specifically checked to make sure the insulation wasn't something awful, but I dismissed my wife's concerns about asbestos being in the popcorn ceilings. We bought the home and then, just to be sure before scraping it down, had a nearby lab test it (for something like $20 or $30). Turns out it not only has asbestos in it, but way more than normal.

If I were a bachelor in a just-for-now home, I'd probably slap on a good mask and take it all down myself, but I have a two-year old and we're thinking about having another, and the idea of fibers flying free in the home with a pregnant wife and a developing toddler is totally unappealing, even if I'm not at all concerned for my adult self. So before you go ripping through anything in your home, have it tested - there's probably a lab in your town you can look up, and it probably doesn't cost much. And even if you don't decide to go the full professional removal route, you'll at least have a better sense of what kinds of precautions you ought to take.

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