Catherine Brooks, lead safety expert, head shotAny house built before 1978 likely contains lead paint. It was durable and marketed as a premium paint, and so homeowners happily coated the exterior and interior of their houses with it.

Back then people didn’t understand lead is a potent neurotoxin that can cause intellectual disabilities and permanent brain damage. The Lead Safe America Foundation notes that one in three American children under 18 years old today has had an unsafe level of lead in their blood in their lifetime – or more than 22 million children.

Today as people restore and renovate historic homes for modern life, they wonder: how do I safely deal with lead paint?

If that’s your situation, you’ll find our upcoming Window Hero Webinar with Catherine Brooks of Eco-Strip useful. She is a former board member of the Lead Safe America Foundation, which has a wealth of information for anyone living in a home with lead paint. She is an expert on how to identify and safely remove it.

“Anything you do with lead paint, you need to do it right or you’re going to poison someone,” said Catherine. “So many families with older homes don’t realize how dangerous it is.”

Catherine has long been involved in creating healthy, clean environments. Early in her career, she started one of the first recycling centers in Oregon. She later got an MBA and did private consulting for government agencies including the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

In the webinar, Catherine will talk about staying safe while stripping lead paint from historic windows. She’ll go over how to prep the windows and surrounding space, what to wear, and helpful tools including the Swedish-based SpeedHeater, which she sells. Catherine says the SpeedHeater is compliant with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Renovation, Repair and Painting Program.

Heat guns and open-flame torches can cause lead paint to vaporize and create dust. The SpeedHeater works more like a microwave, sending infrared rays into the paint and wood. These jiggle the molecules, and that friction creates heat that then causes the paint to separate from the wood. The paint becomes bubbled and soft – instead of turning into dust – and can be scraped off.

But staying safe goes beyond using the right tools. Catherine will give a full picture of what it takes to safely restore a beautiful old home.  The EPA also has a great “Before You Renovate” document that should be consulted. Among other things, it lists safety equipment and best practices if you are a Do-It-Yourselfer. 

Enjoy this type of content? At Indow, preserving historic windows is very important to us. We help architects across the country make original windows energy efficient with our inserts – read about it here.