Lead & Lead Paint FAQs
Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint. The federal government banned lead-based paint from
housing in 1978. Some states stopped its use even earlier. Lead can be found:
*In general, the older your home, the more likely it has lead-based paint.
Lead from paint chips, which you can see, and lead dust, which you can’t always see, can be serious hazards.
Paint – Peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking lead-based paint is a hazard and needs immediate attention.
Lead-based paint may also be a hazard when found on surfaces that children can chew or that get a lot of wear and tear. These areas include:
Note: Lead-based paint that is in good condition is usually not a hazard.
Dust – Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is dry scraped, dry sanded, or heated. Dust also forms when painted surfaces bump or rub together. Lead chips and dust can get on surfaces and objects that people touch. Settled lead dust can re-enter the air when people vacuum, sweep, or walk through it.
Soil – Lead in soil can be a hazard when children play in bare soil or when people bring soil into the house on their shoes.
Get your children and home tested if you think your home has high levels of lead. Just knowing that a home has lead-based paint may not tell you if there is a hazard. To reduce your child’s exposure to lead, get your child checked, have your home tested (especially if your home has paint in poor condition and was built before 1978), and fix any hazards you may have.
Your Family – Children’s blood lead levels tend to increase rapidly from 6 to 12 months of age, and tend to peak at 18 to 24 months of age. Consult your doctor for advice on testing your children. A simple blood test can detect high levels of lead. Blood tests are important for:
Your doctor can explain what the test results mean and if more testing will be needed.
Your Home – You can get your home checked in one of two ways, or both:
Have qualified professionals do the work. There are standards in place for certifying lead-based paint professionals to ensure the work is done safely, reliably, and effectively. Contact the National Lead InformationCenter (NLIC) for a list of contacts in your area. Trained professionals use a range of methods when checking your home, including:
Note: Home test kits for lead are available, but studies suggest that they are not always accurate. Consumers should not rely on these tests before doing renovations or to assure safety.
If you suspect that your house has lead hazards, you can take some immediate steps to reduce your family’s risk:
In addition to day-to-day cleaning and good nutrition you can temporarily reduce lead hazards by taking actions such as repairing damaged painted surfaces and planting grass to cover soil with high lead levels. These actions (called “interim controls”) are not permanent solutions and will need ongoing attention. To permanently remove lead hazards, you must hire a certified lead “abatement” contractor. Abatement (or permanent hazard elimination) methods include removing, sealing, or enclosing lead-based paint with special materials. Just painting over the hazard with regular paint is not enough. Always hire a person with special training for correcting lead problems — someone who knows how to do this work safely and has the proper equipment to clean up thoroughly. Certified contractors will employ qualified workers and follow strict safety rules set by their state or the federal government. Contact the National Lead Information Center(NLIC) for help with locating certified contractors in your area and to see if financial assistance is available.
Many houses and apartments built before 1978 have paint that contains lead (called lead-based paint). Lead from
paint, chips, and dust can pose serious health hazards if not taken care of properly. Federal law requires that
individuals receive certain information before renting or buying a pre-1978 housing:
Federal law also requires that contractors provide lead information to residents before renovating a pre-1978 housing:
*If not conducted properly, certain types of renovations can release lead from paint and dust into the air.