1. House built in 70s
  2. It has been repainted 2-3 times since then
  3. There's an area of 2 square meters of flaking paint in my bedroom. Fine dust of it right below :(
  4. Concerned about lead
  5. Limited money

I know that in order to repaint over it I would have to scrape the paint somehow (following scary containment strategies wrapping stuff etc) but this question is not about that. I want to stop the possible lead contamination from flakes turning into dust and I don't care if I end up with ugly patches of missing paint. Should I just pull the flakes by hand or will I end up worse? On the other hand, even if these flakes are left on their own they will turn into dust anyway. If I encased the area in ugly plastic wrap would it make flaking worse?

  • Lead need only be a concern if you have small children nearby — for adults it's basically a non-issue, especially if you take basic precautions like wearing a dust mask.
    – Hank
    Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 18:59

2 Answers 2


ANY paint will turn to dust eventually. Removing the large flakes and re-painting is your best bet.

I will say, for a home built in the 70's there is only a very small likelihood that there is any lead paint present. I took the lead paint course, and I'd have to look the numbers up, but for a home built in the 1800's and early 1900's the likelihood is in 90% range. that number decreases down to the 10% range by the 70's, and lead paint was banned in 1978. I've seen scare tactic quotes that say "Three-quarters of the homes built before 1978 contain some lead-based paint." While this is true it is highly misleading.

Do a web search. There is more info on lead paint that you'll care to look at. Lead has become another buzz word like asbestos, and a lot of people are making a lot of money off it.


Well, you could get a cheap test kit and find out if there's lead in the paint. Problem is that if the test comes up positive you're now legally obligated to include that information when you sell the place. (I don't have to test. My place was build in the late 1800's. I can essentially presume that older paint may contain lead.)

If it is, I think what I'd attempt would be to clean up a bit then encapsulate what was left. WARNING: I do NOT know what I'm doing here; this is intuitive best-guess, not expert advice by any means:

Put on dust mask. Dab loose area with adhesive side of duct tape to lift off anything that's going to flake off easily; immediately bag the contaminated tape for disposal as hazmat. Wash the entire area and anything below it with detergent and multiple changes of water to capture remaining loose dust and ensure a good surface for repainting. Let it dry, then give it several coats of new paint.

Theoretically, that ought to hold things together for some considerable length of time. How well it would actually work, I have no clue.

More seriously: If it comes back lead-positive, or if you don't want to test but want to assume it does contain lead, I'd recommend bringing in an expert to tell you what the best solution is.

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