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Q. What is lead-based paint?

A. Many houses and apartments built before 1978 have some paint that contains lead (called lead-based paint). Properties before 1960 have the most lead paint. Lead paint can be present on any painted surface, but it is most often found on windows, trims, doors, railings, columns, porches and outside walls.

Q. When is lead paint a hazard?

A. Peeling or damaged paint is dangerous. Lead dust can be released from peeling or damaged paint, or by sanding or scraping paint in older homes. Lead dust settles on floors, window sills and other surfaces where it can get into children's mouthes. Lead paint in good condition is usually not a problem. Lead-based paint is usually safe unless it is on friction (doors, door jambs or door casings, windows, window frames and casings, paint on floors) or impact surfaces (doors, baseboards, stairs, etc.).

Q. Where can lead paint be found?

A. Lead-based paint can be 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 frames
  • Stairs, railings, and banisters
  • Porches and fences
Children can also be exposed to lead dust by parents who work in lead related industries (lead foundry, car repairs, and lead related work). Parents working in these industries often bring home lead dust in their clothing or shoes and expose children to high levels of lead dust. A shower and change of clothes are recommended before coming home. Several cases of lead poisoning reported are due to occupational hazards.

Q. What are some health concerns for children exposed to lead-based paint?

A. If not detected early, children with high levels of 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

Q. How can my child be tested for lead?

A. A blood test is the best way to test for lead. If your child is on Medicaid, you can get this test for free. Ask your doctor or health care provider to test your children for lead.

Q. Are there any potential health problems for adults?

A. Yes. 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 problems

Q. What are some other sources of lead that can be found in the home?

A. The use of foreign-made vinyl miniblinds can contain extensive amounts of lead; when exposed to the sun, the coating breaks down and deteriorates and releases large amounts of lead dust often 100 times the safe level. The use of foreign-made miniblinds should be discontinued. In spite of CPSC warnings, these vinyl miniblinds are still readily available in some hardware stores. They may be found in newer homes and mobile homes where there is no lead-based paint. Many children have been lead-poisoned from these types of miniblinds.

Another is an occupational hazard where parents work in lead related industries (lead foundry, car repair, and other lead related work). Parents often bring home lead dust in their clothing or shoes thus exposing their children to high levels of lead dust.

Q. I own an apartment building or home that may have been built prior to 1978. Is there anything information that I should have?

A. Yes. Federal Law requires for owners to disclose information to prospective tenants regarding lead hazards. State and local laws also apply. Visit the Federal Regulations page for more information.

Q. Who Must Follow These Requirements?

A. In general, anyone whose compensated work disturbs paint in housing built before 1978, including:

  • Residential rental property owners/managers
  • General contractors
  • Special trade contractors, including: Painters, Plumbers, Carpenters, Electricans

Q. What is the Lead Disclosure Rule and how does it apply to me?

A. The Lead Disclosure Rule requires owners to give tenants a brochure and to provide test results and standard warning language in leases. This must be done before a new tenant signs a lease and before an existing tenant renews a lease for properties built before 1978. Call 1-800-424-LEAD for free copies of the brochure, Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home, the standard warning language and other information about the Lead Disclosure Rule.

Q. How can I protect my tenants?

A. It's as easy as 1, 2, 3.

  1. Keep paint in good shape.
  2. Watch out for lead dust when you repair, repaint, or renovate.
  3. Make lead safety a habit.

Note: Use HUD's simple checklist to inform your tenants of lead paint hazards.

About 1 in 11 children in America have high levels of lead in their blood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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Auburn University AL 36849
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Dolores Tiner
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