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Lead Paint Risk?

Old 07-12-11, 05:03 PM
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remdim
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Lead Paint Risk?

Hi All,

I've recently begun modding older bikes. Typically things from the late 60's, 70's...Schwinn Fair Lady, Breeze, old Sears bicycles. Since these are 'just for fun' I'll be stripping the paint (sanding, not chemical) and re-painting by hand. Before I create tons of bike-dust, should I be concerned about lead paint potentially being on the bikes? I don't know much about what is on them but the time period makes me wonder....

Thanks in advance!
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Old 07-12-11, 05:30 PM
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I would be. Stripping old paint by sanding maximizes the exposure to you and anyone nearby. Doing it without proper PPE is not a good idea. And then you have the cleanup issue afterwards.

Try google, lots of stuff on it on the web. There's over 2600 hits on google on lead paint just for this forum.
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Old 07-12-11, 06:07 PM
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Lead is an issue with house paint from that period and the biggest worry is kids eating paint chips. That
Being said there is probably nothing good about breathing in bike paint that has been sanded. Buy yourself a couple dollar mask at home depot and you should be fine.
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Old 07-12-11, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by svt4cam View Post
Lead is an issue with house paint from that period and the biggest worry is kids eating paint chips. That
Being said there is probably nothing good about breathing in bike paint that has been sanded. Buy yourself a couple dollar mask at home depot and you should be fine.
All kinds of paint contained lead back then. You are right, house paint had it. So did common enamels, the paint on toys, home furnishings, etc.
Is it a serious health risk today? Well, er... probably not. Use common sense and wear a dust mask, and you wont have to worry, eh?
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Old 07-12-11, 06:22 PM
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The main risk is kids eating it. If you are an adult there is little risk other than
sitting and making a meal of it. How ever, breathing any kind of dust is bad.
So a simple dust mask is in order, or you could wet sand. Sand blasting in
a cabinet is good. To minimize the spreading of dust, wet the floor while
sanding. A 20" box fan with a 20X20" home heating type filter with trap
most of the air borne dust. Keep all children away from the work area.
Sweep up all dust or vacuum with a unit that has a bag and make sure
you don't throw it in the regular trash, take it to a disposal site.
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Old 07-12-11, 07:21 PM
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A very good question. Just had the house painters here last week and in this area, with lots of old Colonial homes, it's a real issue. They have to jump through serious hoops when removing it. They grind it off instead of sanding, in order to minimize dust. Might sound strange, but if you're concerned you might try scraping it off, as much as you can.
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Old 07-12-11, 07:36 PM
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Paint stripper is a much easier way to remove paint. That's why it exists.



Yes, that's a PX10.

Last edited by Grand Bois; 07-12-11 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 07-12-11, 07:44 PM
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Ooo. That pic is a bit ...creepy.
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Old 07-12-11, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by dahut View Post
All kinds of paint contained lead back then. You are right, house paint had it. So did common enamels, the paint on toys, home furnishings, etc.
Is it a serious health risk today? Well, er... probably not. Use common sense and wear a dust mask, and you wont have to worry, eh?
I stand corrected, that would probably explain my forgetfulness after licking my older bikes lol
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Old 07-13-11, 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by rootboy View Post
A very good question. Just had the house painters here last week and in this area, with lots of old Colonial homes, it's a real issue. They have to jump through serious hoops when removing it. They grind it off instead of sanding, in order to minimize dust. Might sound strange, but if you're concerned you might try scraping it off, as much as you can.
From years in the real estate business, I can tell you that the "threat" of lead in paint looms larger than the fact. Lead collects in the system, so it has a cumulative effect... the more you ingest, the more it becomes a problem.
But it's the ingesting that is crucial: you have to eat enough paint or it's dust to make it matter.

Lead is a very useful element and has been with us throughout history. It was/is added to paint as a pigment and to increase its corrosion resisting qualities, its durability and its appearance. White and yellow paints are mainly where it was used, although it wasn't in all paints. I've seen lead putty, too, for sealing windows cracks and so on - all the places we would use caulking today.
Back when pewter (tin, alloyed with copper and lead) was a common material for household items like DISHES, it WAS a problem. Food and drink, especially alcohol, leach the lead from the pewter where it can be ingested.

The law as we know it today was primarily aimed at children under 6. This is due to their distasteful habit of sticking everything into their mouths. The popular image was of a toddler gnawing on his crib - painted with leaded paint.
In truth, they can ingest it from deteriorated paint, minute chips or dust from paint removal. Therefore, it was banned in this country in 1977.

But the threat is something of an urban legend. It isn't that it wont hurt you. Rather, it *may* under the right conditions, so we become fearful across the board. Similar fears arise with cycling helmets.
Actually, leaded paint is still in use for some applications (military, parking lot markings) and not all countries have discontinued it. In THIS country, though, it cannot be added to any paint intended for the consumer market. Its removal in real estate scenarios is mandated to chemical or mechanical means, like scraping. You have to be certified to remove it if you are a licensed contractor and sanding is verboten for these guys.

So follow the practice of painters everywhere -
1. Wear a mask, goggles, long clothing and gloves when sanding any paint.
2. Work in a booth. Erect one from plastic sheet and filter the air as mentioned above.
3. More good advice: "To minimize the spreading of dust, wet the floor while
sanding. A 20" box fan with a 20X20" home heating type filter with trap
most of the air borne dust. Keep all children away from the work area.
Sweep up all dust or vacuum with a unit that has a bag and make sure
you don't throw it in the regular trash, take it to a disposal site."
Dispose of the clothes worn during the removal the same way.
4. Shower soon thereafter.
3. Don't rub your eyes while working, nor eat anything near the sanding area.

Common sense, really. No more fear, eh?

Last edited by dahut; 07-13-11 at 07:16 AM.
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Old 07-13-11, 01:23 PM
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Use the stripper like GB says, then see if you can dispose of it through the toxic waste collection service near you.
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Old 07-13-11, 05:22 PM
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I'd just refrain from chewing on the old paint, and you'll be fine.
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Old 07-13-11, 08:31 PM
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Odd thing is if your going to paint a bike instead of powder coat it lead paint is the way to go...

Many painters morn its passing...
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Old 07-13-11, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by zandoval View Post
Odd thing is if your going to paint a bike instead of powder coat it lead paint is the way to go...

Many painters morn its passing...
Many building contractors morn the passing of the use of asbestos in building materials....oh wait, it's still being used in building materials.

I agree the concern is a non-issue, unless your letting your kids play in the garage while your using a grinding the paint off your frame. If your that concerned, there are some very cheap lead paint test kits. I use a citrus based paint remover in a well ventilated area. It takes several more applications versus the stronger stuff, but it gets the job done.
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Old 07-14-11, 12:11 AM
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every bike I ever tested with one of those kit testers showed "negative" for lead, including some very vintage paint from Olde Europe...I conclude there are very few frames with lead in their pigment. Not so with some of the ceramics (intended for food and use by the entire family!) I tested: I got some positives with those.
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Old 07-14-11, 06:52 AM
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I made a discovery that made my frame stripping a thing of the past.

Take your naked frame to a local body shop that has a bead blaster. Most any shop will strip your frame for a song. My shop of choice will do it for $20. Bead blasting will take off any paint and decals down to the metal without damage to the underlying metal structure.

Bead blasting saves many many hours of work stripping and cleaning up chemicals or paint dust. Well worth my $20!
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Old 07-22-11, 09:33 PM
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Thanks much for all the input! This has been a great forum to get involved in.

I'm thinking about going the paint stripper route...any recommendations? I've seen a product at Home Depot that claims to have the consistency of gel; that seems like an easy cleanup and very appealing. The citrus option mentioned also sounds nice..is it a less-harsh product? I'm fine with having to work on it for a little longer if that means I won't be passing out in my garage.

Thanks again!
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Old 07-22-11, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Hydrated View Post
I made a discovery that made my frame stripping a thing of the past.

Take your naked frame to a local body shop that has a bead blaster. Most any shop will strip your frame for a song. My shop of choice will do it for $20. Bead blasting will take off any paint and decals down to the metal without damage to the underlying metal structure.

Bead blasting saves many many hours of work stripping and cleaning up chemicals or paint dust. Well worth my $20!
This. +1
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Old 07-23-11, 07:39 AM
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That sounds great. I'm checking into it today. $20 is definitely worth the saved hours and cleaner garage.
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Old 07-23-11, 09:15 AM
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ask for walnut shell media or something similar (soft).
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