The National Institute of Restoration
How to remove lead paint safely
The one rule of thumb in removing lead paint is never sand. Sanding releases microscopic lead particles into the air that are just as dangerous as paint chips if they are inhaled. Other techniques to avoid include flame burning, scraping, grinding, or using chemical strippers that contain methylene chloride.
While lead dust is particularly dangerous to children and pregnant women, it can cause severe health problems such as blindness, nerve disorders, or brain damage in anyone.
According to estimates by HUD, 75% of the houses built before 1978 contain some lead-based paint. Laws are on the books (but have not been implemented) that will require real estate agents and sellers of pre-1978 homes to provide potential purchasers and renters with a lead hazard pamphlet and disclose any information about the presence of lead-based paint on the property. In addition, the property owners must provide a 10-day period for buyers to inspect dwellings for lead-based paint.
According to the Home Safety Institute, lead-based paint can be painted over using approved lead encapsulation paint which seals the lead in an airtight membrane. Using regular paint is not advised because it will only delay the problem a few years until the lead leaches through.
Every state has a lead-abatement program that gives further information on removal techniques. States also certify contractors for lead-abatement procedures.