LEARN MORE ABOUT LEAD
Where Lead-Based Paint Is Found
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.
- In homes in the city, country or suburbs.
- In apartments, single-family homes, and both private and public housing.
- Inside and outside of the house.
- In soil around a home.
(Soil can pick up lead from exterior paint or other sources
such as past use of leaded gas in cars.)
Checking Your Family for Lead
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.
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.
Get your children and home tested if you think your home has high levels of lead.
Consult your doctor for advice on testing your children. A simple blood test can detect high levels of lead. Blood tests are usually recommended for:
- Children at ages 1 and 2.
- Children or other family members who have been exposed to high levels of lead.
- Children who should be
tested under your state or local health-screening plan. Your
doctor can explain what the test results mean and if more
testing will be needed.
Identifying Lead Hazards
Lead-based paint is usually not a hazard if it is in good condition and it is not on an impact or friction surface, like a window. It is defined by the federal government as paint with lead levels greater than or equal to 1.0 milligram per square centimeter or more than 0.5% by weight.
Deteriorating lead-based paint (peeling, chipping, chalking, cracking or damaged) is a hazard and needs immediate attention. It may also be a hazard when found on surfaces that children can chew or that get a lot of wear-and-tear, such as:
- Windows and windowsills.
- Doors and doorframes.
- Stairs, railings,
banisters, and porches.
Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is scraped, 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. The following two federal standards have been set for lead hazards in dust:
- 40 micrograms per square foot (µg/ft2) and higher for floors, including carpeted floors.
- 250 µg/ft2 and higher for
Lead in soil can be a hazard when children play in bare soil or when people bring soil into the house on their shoes. The following two federal standards have been set for lead hazards in residential soil:
- 400 parts per million (ppm) and higher in play areas of bare soil.
- 1,200 ppm (average) and
higher in bare soil in the remainder of the yard.
The only way to find out if paint, dust and soil lead hazards exist is to test for them. The next page describes the most common methods used.
Checking Your Home for Lead
Just knowing that a home has lead-based paint may not tell you if there is a hazard. You can get your home tested for lead in several different ways:
- A paint inspection tells you whether your home has lead-based paint and where it is located. It won’t tell you whether or not your home currently has lead hazards.
- A risk assessment tells you if your home currently has any lead hazards from lead in paint, dust or soil. It also tells you what actions to take to address any hazards.
- A combination risk
assessment and inspection tells you if your home has any
lead hazards and if your home has any lead-based paint and
where the lead-based paint is located.
Hire a trained and certified testing professional who will use a range of reliable methods when testing your home.
- Visual inspection of paint condition and location.
- A portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) machine.
- Lab tests of paint, dust
and soil samples.
There are state and federal programs in place to ensure that testing is done safely, reliably and effectively. Contact your state or local agency for more information or call 1-800-424-LEAD (5323) for a list of contacts in your area.
Home test kits for lead are available, but may not always be accurate. Consumers should not rely on these kits before doing renovations or to assure safety.
Source: The National Lead Information Center