exterior window with peeling siding and window casing paint
Photo: Courtesy Van Billings Real Estate LLC
Q: My husband and I recently purchased a beautiful old home built in 1913. There is old peeling paint on the exterior side of all the window casings. I am sure that it is lead paint and am concerned for the safety of our 22-month-old daughter. Without hiring a professional, what are some methods we can use ourselves to safely remove the lead paint?" — Kris, Minneapolis, Minnesota

A: Steve Thomas replies: If your daughter ingests even a small amount of lead it can lead to serious medical problems. In the course of our Jamaica Plain project, we consulted Dr. Michael Shannon, a pediatrician and toxicologist at Children's Hospital in Boston, who reported that exposure to lead paint can have a significant impact on the cognitive development of children under six. Adults have a greater tolerance for lead, but can still develop poisoning and experience symptoms such as headaches and abdominal pain.

For these reasons, I don't recommend that homeowners tackle lead abatement on their own. It's a job for professionals.
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