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Before surface preparation begins

See your doctor

Surface preparation involves physical exertion. It also involves exposure to sanding dust which can cause irritation to the respiratory system and eyes. Individuals with heart, respiratory system or eye problems, and those who are not conditioned for or unaccustomed to physical labor, should obtain clearance from their doctor or physician before beginning surface preparation work. Pregnant women should not do any surface preparation work. It may also be wise to avoid having any surface preparation or painting work done in a home when a woman is pregnant.

Be aware of the hazards of lead

If your home was built before 1978, the painted surfaces of your home may contain lead.

beginning surface preparation work, go to the EPA's website at

Click on the link:
"Information for Homeowners Working at Home"

Read the information provided before beginning surface preparation or repair work.

For more information about lead, contact the National Lead Information Center.
Phone: 1-800-424-5323 or log on to:

An article on the topic of lead-based paint is available from the Consumer Products Safety Commission. CPSC Document #5055 titled “CPSC Warns About Hazards of “Do It Yourself” Removal of Lead Based Paint: Safety Alert.” This document can be found on the Internet at the following address:

Remove mold

Cleaning, repairing, or preparing mold-damaged or mold-affected surfaces can cause the spread of mold spores in your home. Breathing mold spores can cause sickness. If you have (or suspect that you may have) mold-damaged or mold-affected surfaces in your home, consult with a licensed professional mold remediation contractor.

For more information about mold, log on to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) website: In the search box, type the word “mold.”

Address asbestos concerns

In older homes and structures, asbestos can be found in some construction materials that affect surface preparation for interior house painting. These materials may include ceiling texturing materials, drywall joint compound (also called wallboard compound), wood filler, spackling compound, caulk and insulation. The removal of asbestos from construction materials began to gain momentum in the 1970’s.
Note: Materials other than those listed above may also contain asbestos.

Why asbestos-containing materials can pose a hazard

Asbestos-containing materials can pose a hazard should asbestos fibers become airborne. Asbestos fibers can become airborne when asbestos-containing materials are scored, sawed, cut, crushed, broken, drilled, scraped, sanded or disturbed. Once airborne, asbestos fibers that are breathed into the lungs can cause health problems, including lung cancer, and other cancers.

When preparing surfaces

If you are unsure of the possibility of asbestos content in any material within the work area, contact a qualified environmental services company. A sample of the material in question should be tested before surface preparation work begins. Testing will determine if asbestos is present. Follow local asbestos removal laws should asbestos be found.

Additional sources of information

Other sources of information about asbestos include government workplace and safety agencies, companies that manufacture respiratory system protection products and companies that sell workplace safety products. The links below lists two government agency websites which provide asbestos information.

For more information about asbestos log onto:

For information about asbestos laws in your area, contact your state and local government offices.

Note: Online resources referenced in this article may change at any time.

Some information used in this article was found on the websites whose addresses on this page.

This information can be found on pages 16-18 in the book: The Homeowner's Guide to Surface Preparation for Interior House Painting.


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