Jump to main content.


  Field Demonstration of Lead-Based Paint Removal and Inorganic Stabilization Technologies (EPA/600/R-01/055) October 2001
Project Summary

Today, the most widespread source of lead exposure in children in the United States is lead-based paint applied to residential buildings before 1978. Exposure to lead in paint can come from the paint chips themselves, from dust caused by abrasion on friction surfaces, or from chalking of exterior paint.

A study was conducted to demonstrate the effectiveness of:

  • A wet abrasive blasting technology in removing lead-based paint from exterior wood siding and brick substrates
  • The two best demonstrated available technologies in stabilizing the resultant blasting media (coal slag and mineral sand) paint debris to reduce the leachable lead content

The average lead loading of the paint coating on the wood and brick substrates was 6.9 and 51.9 milligrams per square centimeter (mg/cm2), respectively. The effectiveness of the lead-based paint removal technology was determined using an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrum analyzer (L&K shell). The XRF measurements were corroborated by analysis of substrate samples using inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy.

The effectiveness of the technologies in stabilizing the debris was evaluated through the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure. Aerodynamic particle size distributions of lead particulate generated during paint removal were measured using a multistage personal cascade impactor. Personal and area air samples were collected to evaluate the potential of the wet abrasive blasting technology to generate exposure levels of lead above the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of 50 grams per cubic meter 8-hour time-weighted average.

Wet abrasive blasting effectively removed the lead-based paint coating from both the wood and brick substrates to below the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Guideline (1 mg/cm2) with minimal or no damage to the underlying substrates (p<0.0001). The mean area air levels of lead-containing particulate generated during paint removal were significantly below the PEL (p<0.001), whereas the mean personal breathing zone lead levels were approximately three times higher than the PEL. Neither of the two stabilization technologies consistently stabilized the abrasive media paint debris to achieve a leachable lead content below the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act regulatory threshold (<5 milligrams per liter).


Alva Daniels

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page.
See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

Office of Research & Development | National Risk Management Research Laboratory

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.