Stripping away lead-based paint in a flash

December 11, 2006

A new paint stripper that combines the principles of a vacuum cleaner and a pulsed lamp shows promise as a much-needed new technology for removing dangerous lead-based paint from older housing, scientists in Massachusetts are reporting.

Michael J. Grapperhaus and Raymond B. Schaefer explain that existing lead abatement methods have drawbacks. Blasting and sanding, for instance, generate large amounts of toxic lead dust and may damage architectural surfaces, while chemical stripping may produce hazardous waste.

In the Dec. 15 issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, they describe results of early tests on a paint stripper that uses high-intensity flashes of light — a million times more intense than sunlight — to burn off layers of lead-based paint. The flashes do not damage the underlying surface. Remains of the paint are immediately vacuumed and routed into a filtering system.

Analysis of air samples during the experiments showed no dangerous levels of lead. "These tests show that broadband incoherent light pulses can be effective in removal of lead paint from architectural materials," the researchers report. With the concept for the new stripper proven on small samples of paint, they plan to move on to more extensive studies of the technology.

Source: American Chemical Society

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time

October 8, 2015

The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to twice as significant as previously thought, and affected ...

Adult sex ratio linked to gender chromosomes

October 8, 2015

(—A team of researchers with members from institutions in Hungary, the U.S. and the U.K. has found a link between the adult sex ratio (ASR) and gender chromosome differences. In their paper published in the journal ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Dec 19, 2007
There are much easier and safer methods of stripping lead paint. There are at least half a dozen lead paint strippers that render lead non-hazardous and don't create any dust or fumes.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.