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Lead-Based Paint
What is Lead-Based Paint?
What are the Health Affects of Lead-Based Paint?
Where is Lead-Based Paint in the Home?
What to do with Lead-Based Paint in the Home?
What is Lead-Based Paint?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, "Lead-based paint means paint or other surface coatings that contain lead equal to or in excess of 1.0 milligram per square centimeter or 0.5 percent by weight". Lead-based paints were banned in 1978 by the federal government. Prior to 1978, lead-based paints were used in many homes.
What are the Health Affects of Lead-Based Paint?
Lead-based paints pose a health risk when they begin to chip, peel, chalk, or crack. This can allow the lead to become accidentally ingested (especially by children who may put paint chips in their mouths) or lead dust to become airborne thereby being inhaled. The health affects on children include brain damage, nervous system damage, reduced attention span, behavior and learning problems, slowed physical growth, hearing problems and headaches. The health affects on adults include reproductive problems (such as low sperm count), difficulties during pregnancies, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, muscle and joint pain, problems with concentration and memory, and digestive issues. Lead is more dangerous to children than adults because their bodies absorb more lead, their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to lead and they often put their hands or other objects in their mouths that may contain lead.
Where is Lead-Based Paint in the Home?
The majority of homes built before 1978 will have lead-based paints. It is known that lead-based paints may have continued to be used in the couple of years following the ban so the year 1980 may be a more accurate benchmark in determining if your home has lead paint. Lead-based paint can be found in any part of your home that has a painted surface. These are a few spots to keep in mind:
  • Walls
  • Ceilings
  • Windows and window sills
  • Doors and door frames
  • Stairs
  • Railings
  • Banisters
  • Fences
  • Porches and decks
  • Exterior siding
What to do with Lead-Based Paint in the Home?
If you live in a home built before 1980 and are concerned about lead paint exposure it is recommended you seek professional help in determining a proper strategy for safe-gaurding your home. Your home can be checked for lead paint through a lead paint inspection that tells you the lead content of every painted surface in your home and a risk assessment that tells you if there are any sources of serious lead exposure (such as peeling paint) and what to do in in response to these hazards. The National Lead Information Center can give you a list of professionals in your area.
For more information on lead-based paint, visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development wesbite on The Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Rule, and the Environmental Protection Agency website at
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