Frequently Asked Questions
What is my responsibility as a property owner?
You have the ultimate responsibility for the safety of your family, tenants or children in your care.
This means properly preparing for the renovation and keeping persons out of the work area. It also means ensuring that lead professionals use lead-safe work practices.
- Make sure your lead professional is certified, and can clearly explain the details of the job and how the lead professional will minimize lead hazards during the work.
- You can verify that a lead professional is certified by searching the IDPH’s website at dphregprograms.iowa.gov/PublicPortal/Iowa/IDPH/common/index.jsp.
- Ask if the lead professional is trained to perform lead-safe work practices and to see a copy of their certification.
- Ask them what lead-safe methods they will use to set up and perform the job in your home or child-occupied facility. You can also request references from at least three recent jobs involving homes built before 1978 and speak to each reference personally.
- Always make sure the contract is clear about how the work will be set up, performed and cleaned.
- Share the results of any previous lead tests with the lead professional.
- You should specify in the contract that they follow Iowa’s lead-safe work practices described on pages 37-38 of the booklet Lead Poisoning: How to Protect Iowa Families .
- The contract should specify which parts of your home are part of the work area and specify which lead-safe practices will be used in those areas. Remember, your certified lead professional should confine dust and debris to the work area, and should minimize spreading that dust to other areas of the home.
- The contract should also specify that the certified lead professional will clean the work area, verify that it was cleaned adequately, and re-clean it if necessary.
- If you think a worker is not doing what he or she is supposed to do or is doing something unsafe, you should:
- Direct the certified lead professional to comply with regulatory and contract requirements.
- File a complaint with the Iowa Department of Public Health Lead program at 800-972-2026.
How do I keeping my family safe during renovation?
If you are going to prepare for repainting, removing paint or tearing out walls in an old home, you should do one of the following:
- Have the paint tested to see if it is lead-based paint.
- Hire a certified lead inspector to safely and accurately assess the lead dangers in your home. You can search for certified lead inspectors on the IDPH website at https://idph.iowa.gov/Environmental-Health-Services/
- Assume that it is lead-based paint and take the appropriate precautions.*
- Never dry scrape, dry sand, power sand, power wash, grind, or blast with power tools and equipment not equipped with a shroud and HEPA vacuum attachment. Do not use a torch, needle gun, planer, or use a high temperature heat gun to remove lead-based paint.
- Clean up thoroughly every day. Dispose of waste in a heavy duty bag or sheet.
*NOTE: Only owner-occupants can perform renovation, remodeling and repainting without certification.
How can I safely reduce lead hazards in my Pre-1978 home?
If the property is not owner occupied, the renovation or repair work must be completed by a certified lead professional.
Certified Lead Professionals can help identify, repair or eliminate lead-based paint and lead-based hazards. Any person that deals with lead-based paint must be certified.
Certified lead professionals must hire trained workers and follow strict safety rules to protect their workers and people who live in the homes where they work.
If you find hazards in your home:
- Do not panic!
- If you rent, tell your landlord about the hazards that you find. Any hazards that are found must be fixed by a certified lead professional.
- If you own, do NOT sand, scrape or remove any paint, walls, windows or plaster until you know how to do it safely. Call the Iowa Department of Public Health at 800-972-2026 to find out how to do this work safely or find a list of lead safe renovators.
- Have all children under the age of 6 years tested for lead poisoning.
- Supervise your children very carefully. Keep them away from areas where there is peeling and chipping paint.
- Do not allow children to chew on painted surfaces such as window sills, stair rails, furniture, jewelry or toys.
- Do not allow children to put paint chips or soil in their mouths.
- Weekly, clean floors, baseboards and window sills where small children play. Wash woodwork and painted surfaces with warm water and a general all-purpose cleaner. Remember: Never mix ammonia and bleach together since they form a dangerous gas.
- Wash toys, pacifiers and bottles that children drop on the floor.
- Wash children’s hands often, especially before they eat.
- Pick up paint chips that you see on the floor, inside windows or in other places where your children play. Put the paint chips in a garbage bag and dispose of them in the landfill with your regular garbage.
Do not let children play outside in areas where there are paint chips on the ground. Pick up as many of the paint chips as you can. Cover the soil in these areas by seeding grass, laying sod, planting some shrubs or covering with mulch.
When is Lead-Based Paint a Hazard?
Lead-based paint that is peeling, chipping, chalking, cracking or otherwise deteriorating is a hazard to small children.
Lead-based paint in good condition may be a hazard on:
- Surfaces children can chew on (window sills, stair railings, porch railings)
- Surfaces where paint is often damaged by hard impacts (doors, door frames, corners)
- Surfaces where paint is worn by being walked on, such as floors and stairs can be a lead hazard
Lead dust may be on the floors and other surfaces if there has been any remodeling or repainting in your home recently.
Lead in soil is a hazard when children play in areas of bare soil next to old buildings.
Areas of bare soil where buildings have been torn down are also a hazard to children.