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Lighthouse Restoration: Wickens removes lead paint from a historic lighthouse

Posted On April 17, 2018

Marking the entrance to the Niagara River is a lighthouse that once guided boats and ships arriving via Lake Ontario. Built in 1903, the distinct white and red structure is no longer in use but stands as a historic attraction in a public park.

Recently, Fisheries and Oceans Canada decided it was necessary to refurbish the lighthouse and remove the lead paint that had been applied years ago, before federal regulations came into effect.

Lead paint was once the trusted material for weatherproofing the exterior of buildings and structures because of its ability to protect against corrosion. However, once it was discovered that inhaling lead paint particles caused serious illness, its use was regulated and all but discontinued. While undisturbed lead paint doesn’t pose much of a health risk, lead paint that is deteriorating – i.e. flaking, chipping or cracking - can be toxic, as lead particles become airborne and are easily inhaled.

 

A careful process

Wickens Dry Ice Blasting was hired for the lighthouse lead abatement project and soon had a team of trained technicians on the way to Niagara-on-the-Lake to begin.

The first task undertaken by the technicians was to engineer and build scaffolding all around the tower and fully encapsulate the lighthouse so as to protect pedestrians and the land around.

HEPA filters were also installed to trap harmful contaminants and prevent lead paint particles from escaping into the air. One challenge the team faced early on in the project was the fluctuating winter weather conditions. Heaters were installed in the enclosure to maintain a constant temperature and facilitate the abatement procedures and painting.

Upon completion of the enclosure, Wickens’ technicians, wearing full Personal Protection Equipment, went to work removing the lead paint. The challenge at this stage was the age of the shingles on the lighthouse, as the team didn’t want to damage them during the abatement process. In order to retain the integrity of the shingles, Wickens utilized their non-invasive techniques to ensure the original substrate would be protected.

After the lead paint was removed and the surfaces cleaned, a sealant was applied to protect and facilitate proper paint adherence, and independent environmental testing confirmed that the structure was safe. Now visitors to the park can enjoy this historic lighthouse for years to come.

For more information on our lead abatement process, contact Wickens today!