(US EPA: http://www.epa.gov/lead/parents.html) If your home was built before 1978, there is a good chance it has lead-based paint. In 1978, the federal government banned consumer uses of lead-containing paint, but some states banned it even earlier. Lead from paint, including lead-contaminated dust, is one of the most common causes of lead poisoning.
- Lead paint is still present in millions of homes, sometimes under layers of newer paint. If the paint is in good shape, the lead paint is usually not a problem. Deteriorating lead-based paint (peeling, chipping, chalking, cracking, damaged, or damp) 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 window sills
- Doors and door frames
- Stairs, railings, banisters, and porches
- Be sure to keep all paint in excellent shape and clean up dust frequently. Read about simple steps to protect your family from lead hazards (PDF)
- Lead in household dust results from indoor sources such as deteriorating lead-based paint.
- Lead dust can also be tracked into the home from soil outside that is contaminated by deteriorated exterior lead-based paint and other lead sources, such as industrial pollution and past use of leaded gasoline.
- Renovation, repair or painting activities can create toxic lead dust when painted surfaces are disturbed or demolished.
Lead in household dust results from indoor sources such as old lead paint on surfaces that are frequently in motion or bump or rub together (such as window frames), deteriorating old lead paint on any surface, home repair activities, tracking lead contaminated soil from the outdoors into the indoor environment, or even from lead dust on clothing worn at a job site.
Even in well-maintained homes, lead dust can form when lead-based paint is scraped, sanded or heated during home repair activities. Lead paint chips and dust can get on surfaces and objects that people touch. Settled lead dust can re-enter the air when the home is vacuumed or swept, or people walk through it. To reduce exposure to lead dust, it is especially important to maintain all painted surfaces in good condition, and to clean frequently, to reduce the likelihood of chips and dust forming. Using a lead-safe certified renovator to perform renovation, repair and painting jobs is a good way to reduce the likelihood of contaminating your home with lead-based paint dust.
Before you renovate
- Find a lead-safe certified renovation firm in your area. Renovations, repair jobs and paint jobs in pre-1978 homes and buildings can create significant amounts of lead-based paint dust. If your contractor will disturb lead-based paint while renovating, repairing or painting your home, he or she must be trained in lead-safe work practices.
- Read EPA's fact sheet on using a lead-safe certified contractor
- If you are a do-it yourselfer, learn how to protect yourself and your family from exposure to lead-based paint.
- If you are a renter, learn your rights.