Lead paint dust
June 30, 2015 8:43 AM   Subscribe

I think workers employed by my landlord sanded away about a square foot of paint in my bathroom (in a building erected in the 1930s). There is a layer of fine dust in my medicine cabinet and on a few other surfaces (presumably those they didn't wipe down afterward). I'm concerned about lead poisoning; what steps should I take to avoid exposure?

I used my toothbrush (which was sitting in a mug on my sink) after a perfunctory rinsing-off. How worried should I be that I ingested an appreciable quantity of dust?
posted by phrontist to Health & Fitness (4 answers total)
The big deal with lead poisoning is that the lead builds up in your body over time. Wet down the surface and wipe up with something you then toss out. Use gloves if you are really concerned. You can also contact your landlord to ask about lead paint and/or to have them clean up the rest of the dust in your place. But generally lead isn't good for you but tiny amounts of exposure in grown-ups should not be a cause for major concern. There is a number you can call on this page if you want to talk to an expert about this: 800-LEAD-FYI
posted by jessamyn at 9:00 AM on June 30, 2015 [5 favorites]

You can buy a lead paint testing kit at any hardware store for approximately $10.
posted by salvia at 9:05 AM on June 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

Hardware stores should be able to sell you a lead test kit for ~$10. That way you can know for sure whether you're actually dealing with lead paint dust at all.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:06 AM on June 30, 2015

You can check out the resources at www.letsmakeleadhistory.org. Under "For Parents" on the left side, you'll find info on cleaning up.

Rochester NY has had an enormously successful initiative to eliminate lead poisoning in young children, thanks to a coalition of activists and medical researchers who pushed for local policy changes regarding rental properties. They've got a ton of knowledge on that website.

Lead poisoning is a particular problem for young children. It can also be a problem for adults, but It's a problem for young children at lower doses. If you're very concerned, you could talk to your physician about getting a blood test.
posted by vitabellosi at 9:22 AM on June 30, 2015

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