WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LEAD
PLANNING TO BUY, RENT OR RENOVATE 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.
  • LANDLORDS will have to disclose known information on lead-based paint hazards before leases take effect. Leases will include a federal form about lead-based paint.
  • SELLERS will have to disclose known information on lead-based paint hazards before selling a house. Sales contracts will include a federal form about lead-based paint in the building. Buyers will have up to 10 days to check for lead hazards.
If you want more information on these requirements, call the National Lead Information Clearinghouse at 1-800-424-LEAD.

WHERE LEAD-BASED PAINT IS FOUND
Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint. In 1978, the federal government banned lead-based paint from housing.
Lead can be found:
  • 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).
WHERE LEAD IS LIKELY TO BE A HAZARD
Lead-based paint that is in good condition is usually not a hazard. 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:
  • Windows and window sills...
  • Doors and door ...
  • Stairs, railings, and banisters...
  • Porches and fences...
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 reenter the air when people vacuum, sweep, or walk through it.
Lead in soil can be a hazard when children play in bare soil or when people bring soil into the house on their shoes. Call your state agency to find out about soil testing for lead.

LEAD GETS INTO THE BODY IN MANY WAYS
People can get lead in their body if they:
  • Put their hands or other objects covered with lead dust in their mouths.
  • Eat paint chips or soil that contain lead.
  • Breathe in lead dust (especially during renovations that disturb painted surfaces).
Lead is even more dangerous to children than adults because:
  • Babies and young children often put their hands and other objects in their mouths. These objects can have lead dust on them.
  • Children's growing bodies absorb more lead.
  • Children's brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead.
LEAD'S EFFECTS
If not detected early, children with lead in their bodies can suffer from:
  • Damage to the brain and nervous system
  • Behavior and learning problems (such as hyperactivity)
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing problems
  • Headaches
Lead is also harmful to adults. Adults can suffer from:
  • Difficulties during pregnancy.
  • Other reproductive problems (in both men and women).
  • High blood pressure.
  • Digestive problems.
  • Nerve disorders (memory and concentration problems).
  • Muscle and joint pain.
CHECKING YOUR HOME FOR LEAD
You can get your home checked for lead hazards in one of two ways, or both:
  • A paint inspection tells you the lead content of every 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. The federal government is writing standards for inspectors and risk assessors. Some states might already have standards in place. Call your state agency for help with locating qualified professionals in your area.
Trained professionals use a range of methods when checking your home, including:
  • Visual inspection of paint condition and location.
  • Lab tests of paint samples.
  • Surface dust tests.
  • A portable x-ray fluorescence machine.
Home test kits for lead are available, but the federal government is still testing their reliability. These tests should not be the only method used before doing renovations or to assure safety. Just knowing that a home has lead-based paint may not tell you if there is a hazard.

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