Homes and apartments built before 1978 may have interior and exterior paint
and varnishes that contain lead. In that year the Consumer Product Safety Commission
banned lead based paints and varnishes from residential use. Any home built
prior to the ban in 1978 is suspect for lead-based paint unless it has been
certified as lead-free. Older cribs, chairs and other painted furniture may
also have paint that contains lead. Lead from paint, found in chips, dust and
often soil, can be dangerous if not managed properly.
What can you do?
Lead based paint that is in good condition is usually not a hazard, however,
paint chips and lead dust can be serious hazards. The pamphlet Protect
Your Family From Lead in Your Home provides steps to reduce the
risk of lead in and around your home. Prior to remodeling or renovation
activity that will disturb painted surfaces, you should consult or hire
a professional who is specifically trained for lead inspection and
Some contractors are trained to follow lead-safe work practices during
renovation and weatherization projects. All contractors and subcontractors
are responsible for following proper lead-safe work practices to protect
themselves as well as the occupants from lead exposure. Be sure to discuss
the potential of lead with them. Ask about specific lead-safe training
that they and their workers have completed, certification that they may
have received, and find out about the lead-safe work practices that they
will follow while at your home.
Why is lead a concern?
- Lead is poisonous and is considered a hazardous material by the Environmental
- Lead can enter the body by breathing or swallowing lead dust, or by
eating soil or paint chips with lead in them.
- Lead accumulates in the bones after circulating through the body and
negatively affects every major bodily system. Damage to the brain and
nervous system may affect the memory, concentration and create behavioral
and learning problems. Children may have impaired growth and hearing,
while adults may suffer from high blood pressure, digestive problems,
nerve disorders and muscle and joint pain. Both men and women may also
have reproductive problems.
- Lead is particularly harmful to children and pregnant women. Children
often put their hands and objects that may contain lead dust into their
mouths. Children's growing bodies absorb more lead than adults and their
brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to damage from lead. For
women, lead can lead to difficulties during pregnancy.
- Lead dust can be easily transferred from a jobsite to other areas
of the home, or to other homes putting workers and their families at
risk unless proper precautions are followed.
- People may appear healthy even with high levels of lead in their system.
A simple blood test can detect high levels of lead in the body.
Whether you hire a contractor or do the work yourself, be sure to read and
follow the guidelines discussed in Reducing Lead Hazards When
Remodeling Your Home to protect yourself and others from lead exposure.
Resources on lead-safe practices:
Your Family From Lead In Your Home - http://enviro.nfesc.navy.mil/esc425/leadpdfe.pdf
This pamphlet provides general homeowner guidance for day-to-day lead-safe
practices plus potential sources of lead besides paint, when to contact a
professional, and steps for checking your family for lead. EPA-747-K-99-001
- Identifying Lead
Hazards In Your Home - http://www.hud.gov/offices/lead/403/fact403.pdf
This factsheet discusses lead hazards in paint, dust and soil. It will help
the homeowner identify when lead may be a hazard, provides standards for unacceptable
concentration levels in dust and soil, and discusses testing procedures. EPA-747-F-96-007
Lead Hazards When Remodeling Your Home - http://www.epa.gov/lead/rrpamph.pdf
A must-read for the do-it-yourself resident. This comprehensive guide provides
an overview of the hazards, a list of appropriate equipment to use and details
on safe work and cleanup practices for small and large do-it-yourself projects.
It includes a checklist and contact numbers for additional information. EPA
Lead-based Paint Pre-Renovation Education Rule - http://www.hud.gov/offices/lead/406b/406binteriorfinal.pdf
For contractors, property managers and maintenance personnel in residential
housing that may contain lead-based paint. This booklet outlines the federal
"Lead PRE Rule" requiring advance notification of residents and
distribution of educational materials prior to activities that disturb painted
surfaces. EPA 747-B-99-004
View the above resources by clicking on the underlined text or order copies
. . .
P.O. Box 42419
Cincinnati, Ohio 45242-0419
Call 1-800-490-9198 or (513) 489-8190
(Operator - Monday through Friday, 7:30 AM - 5:30 PM, E.S.T. or leave an
order 24 hours a day.)
Sources of further assistance:
- The Lead Listing
This site helps consumers locate qualified lead service providers, renovators
trained in lead-safe practices, EPA-recognized lead analysis laboratories,
and lead training providers. "Questions and Answers" provides a
first stop to direct the consumer to the information that they seek. This
is not a comprehensive list, providers appear voluntarily and are not endorsed
by the authors.
National Lead Information Center Hotline - 1-800-424-LEAD, (1-800-424-5323)
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Environmental Health Center (EHC) of the National Safety Council manages
the National Lead Information Center (NLIC) under a cooperative agreement
with the Environmental Protection Agency. The Hotline distributes a basic
information packet on lead that includes the EPA brochure "Lead Poisoning
and Your Children," three fact sheets, and a list of state and local
contacts for additional information. The Center can also assist in locating
a qualified professional.
Healthy Indoor Air for America's
Homes - http://www.montana.edu/wwwcxair/ 1-888-678-6872 (in Montana),
1- 406-994-3531 (outside Montana)
The goal of this Program is to educate consumers about sources, health risks,
and control measures related to common residential indoor air quality (IAQ)
problems including lead, and to help consumers reduce their health risks from
these problems. Also provides educator resources, training manuals and state-by-state
Environmental Agencies - http://pollution.about.com/cs/government/index.htm
Search for federal or state agency contacts. Ask for lead specialists within
these agencies for more general information, certification requirements and
local lists of certified contractors.