Lead-Based Paint: How and Why to Avoid

Lead-based paint is still present in MILLIONS of homes, often times hidden under layers of newer paint. We must stay informed and take action to prevent any more cases of lead poisoning.

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 is a highly toxic metal that may cause a range of health problems, especially in young children. When lead is absorbed into the body, it can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs, like the kidneys, nerves and blood. Lead exposure can harm young children and babies even before they are born. While low-lead exposure is most common, exposure to high levels of lead can have devastating effects on children, including seizures, unconsciousness, and, in some cases, death.

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). 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. Although children are especially susceptible to lead exposure, lead can be dangerous for adults too.

In adults, lead can cause:

  • Harm to a fetus, including brain damage or death.
  • Fertility problems (in men and women).
  • High blood pressure.
  • Digestive problems.
  • Nerve disorders.
  • Memory and concentration problems.
  • Muscle and joint pain.

For Sale by Owners,

BUYERS, and RENTERSare encouraged to check for lead before renting, buying or renovating pre-1978 housing. Federal law requires that individuals receive certain information before renting, buying, or renovating pre-1978 housing.

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.

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. 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.

Below is the contact information for Florida’s region if you’d like more information on how to test your home and prevent any lead incidents.

Region 4 (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee) Regional Lead Contact U.S. EPA Region 4 61 Forsyth Street, SW Atlanta, GA 30303 (404) 562-8998

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