Beginning April 22, 2010, federal law requires that contractors
performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb more
than six square feet of paint in homes, child care facilities, and
schools built before 1978 must be certified and trained to follow
specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.
Are you planning to buy or rent a home built before 1978?
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:
LANDLORDS must disclose known information on lead-based paint and
lead-based paint hazards before leases take effect. Leases must include a
disclosure form about lead-based paint.
SELLERS must disclose known information on lead-based paint and
lead-based paint hazards before selling a house. Sales contracts must
include a disclosure form about lead-based paint. Buyers have up to ten
days to check for lead hazards.
In general, the older your home, the more likely it has lead-based
Paint. 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 homes in the city, country, or suburbs.
In apartments, single-family homes, and both private and public
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, and children
playing in yards can ingest or inhale lead dust.
Household dust. Dust can pick up lead from deteriorating
lead-based paint or from soil tracked into a home.
water. Your home might have plumbing with lead or lead solder. Call
your local health department or water supplier to find out about testing
your water. You cannot see, smell or taste lead, and boiling your water
will not get rid of lead. If you think your plumbing might have lead in
Use only cold water for drinking and cooking.
Run water for 15 to 30 seconds before drinking it, especially if
you have not used your water for a few hours.
The job. If you work with lead, you could bring it home on your
hands or clothes. Shower and change clothes before coming home. Launder
your work clothes separately from the rest of your family's clothes.
Old painted toys and furniture.
Food and liquids stored in lead crystal or lead-glazed pottery or
porcelain. Food can become contaminated because lead can leach in from
Lead smelters or other industries that release lead into the air.
Hobbies that use lead, such as making pottery or stained glass,
or refinishing furniture.
Folk remedies that contain lead, such as "greta" and "azarcon"
used to treat an upset stomach.
How to check your family and home for 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.
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
Children at ages one and two.
Children and other family members who have been exposed to high
levels of lead.
Children who should be tested under your state or local health
Your doctor can explain what the test results mean and if more
testing will be needed.
You can get your home checked in one of two ways, or both
A paint inspection tells you the lead content of every different
type of painted surface in your home. It won't tell you
whether the paint is a hazard or how you should deal with it.
A risk assessment tells you if there are any sources of serious
lead exposure (such as peeling paint and lead dust). It
also tells you what actions to take to address these hazards.
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 Information
Center (NLIC) for a
list of contacts in your area.
Trained professionals use a range of methods when checking your
Visual inspection of paint condition and location.
A portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) machine.
Lab tests of paint samples.
Surface dust tests.
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.
What you can do to protect your family
If you suspect that your house has lead hazards, you can take some
immediate steps to reduce your family's risk:
If you rent, notify your landlord of peeling or chipping paint.
Clean up paint chips immediately.
Clean floors, window frames, window sills, and other surfaces
weekly. Use a mop, sponge, or paper towel with warm water and a
general all-purpose cleaner or a cleaner made specifically for lead.
REMEMBER: NEVER MIX AMMONIA AND BLEACH PRODUCTS TOGETHER
SINCE THEY CAN FORM A DANGEROUS GAS.
Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty or
Wash children's hands often, especially before they eat and before
nap time and bed time.
Keep play areas clean. Wash bottles, pacifiers, toys, and stuffed
Keep children from chewing window sills or other painted surfaces.
Clean or remove shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking
in lead from soil.
Make sure children eat healthy and nutritious meals as recommended
by the National
Dietary Guidelines. Children with good diets absorb less lead.
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 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.
Sutherlands® provides these project tips and guides as a service to our visitors. Due to possible variance in conditions, equipment, materials and individual skill levels, Sutherlands® assumes no responsibility for losses or injuries incurred during maintenance or repair of your property. Sutherlands® assumes no liability for errors or omissions in the Resources section of this website. Please read and follow any safety precautions provided by tool and equipment manufacturers, and consult a building professional in your area if you have any questions about a repair project. Always check your local codes before building, and obtain the required building permits.