Are You Planning To Buy, Rent, or Renovate a Home Built Before 1978?

Did you know that many houses and apartments built before 1978 have lead-based paint? Lead from paint, chips, and dust can pose serious health hazards.

Read this article to learn:

Before renting or buying a pre-1978 home or apartment, federal law requires:

If undertaking renovations, repairs, or painting (RRP) projects in your pre-1978 home or apartment:

Simple Steps to Protect Your Family from Lead Hazards

If you think your home has lead-based paint:

Lead Gets into the Body in Many Ways

Adults and children can get lead into their bodies if they:

Lead is especially dangerous to children under the age of 6.

Women of childbearing age should know that lead is dangerous to a developing fetus.

Even children who appear healthy can have dangerous levels of lead in their bodies.

Health Effects of Lead

Lead affects the body in many ways. It is important to know that even exposure to low levels of lead can severely harm children.

In children, exposure to lead can cause:

In children, lead can cause:

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.

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

In adults, exposure to lead can cause:

Check Your Family for Lead

Get your children and home tested if you think your home has lead.

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 lead. Blood lead tests are usually recommended for:

Your doctor can explain what the test results mean and if more testing will be needed.

Where Lead-Based Paint Is Found

In general, the older your home or childcare facility, the more likely it has lead-based paint.

Many homes, including private, federally-assisted, federally-owned housing, and childcare facilities built before 1978 have lead-based paint. In 1978, the federal government banned consumer uses of lead-containing paint.

Lead can be found:

Learn more about where lead is found at

Identifying Lead-Based Paint and Lead-Based Paint Hazards

Deteriorated lead-based paint (peeling, chipping, chalking, cracking, or damaged 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, such as:

Lead-based paint is usually not a hazard if it is in good condition and if it is not on an impact or friction surface like a window.

Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is scraped, sanded, or heated. Lead dust also forms when painted surfaces containing lead bump or rub together. Lead paint chips and dust can get on surfaces and objects that people touch. Settled lead dust can reenter the air when the home is vacuumed or swept, or when people walk through it. EPA currently defines the following levels of lead in dust as hazardous:

Lead in soil can be a hazard when children play in bare soil or when people bring soil into the house on their shoes. EPA currently defines the following levels of lead in soil as hazardous:

Remember, lead from paint chips—which you can see—and lead dust—which you may not be able to see—both can be hazards.

The only way to find out if paint, dust and soil lead hazards exist is to test for them. The next section describes how to do this.

Peeling paint that could be lead-based

Lead from paint chips, which you can see, and lead dust, which you can’t always see, can both be serious hazards.

Checking Your Home for Lead

You can get your home tested for lead in several different ways:

A lead-based paint inspection tells you if your home has lead-based paint and where it is located. It won’t tell you whether your home currently has lead hazards. A trained and certified testing professional, called a lead-based paint inspector, will conduct a paint inspection using methods, such as a portable x-ray fluorescence machine or lab tests of paint samples.

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 trained and certified testing professional, called a risk assessor, will:

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.

Be sure to read the report provided to you after your inspection or risk assessment is completed, and ask questions about anything you do not understand.

In preparing for renovation, repair, or painting work in a pre-1978 home, Lead-Safe Certified renovators may:

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, visit, or call 1-800-424-LEAD (5323) for a list of contacts in your area.

What You Can Do Now To Protect Your Family

If you suspect that your house has lead-based paint hazards, you can take some immediate steps to reduce your family’s risk:

Reducing Lead Hazards

Disturbing lead-based paint or removing lead improperly can increase the hazard to your family by spreading even more lead dust around the house.

Always use a certified contractor who is trained to address lead hazards safely.

Certified contractors will employ qualified workers and follow strict safety rules as set by their state or by the federal government.

If your home has had lead abatement work done or if the housing is receiving federal assistance, once the work is completed, dust cleanup activities must be conducted until clearance testing indicates that lead dust levels are below the following levels:

Abatements are designed to permanently eliminate lead-based paint hazards. However, lead dust can be reintroduced into an abated area.

Please see page 9 for more information on steps you can take to protect your home after the abatement. For help in locating certified lead abatement professionals in your area, call your state or local agency (see pages 15 and 16),, or call 1-800-424-LEAD.

Renovating, Repairing or Painting a Home with Lead-Based Paint

If you hire a contractor to conduct renovation, repair, or painting (RRP) projects in your pre-1978 home or childcare facility (such as pre-school and kindergarten), your contractor must:

RRP contractors working in pre-1978 homes and childcare facilities must follow lead-safe work practices that:

To learn more about EPA’s requirements for RRP projects, visit, or read The Lead-Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right.

While paint, dust,
and soil are the
most common
sources of lead,
other lead
sources also exist.

Other Sources of Lead

Lead in Drinking Water

The most common sources of lead in drinking water are lead pipes, faucets, and fixtures.

Lead pipes are more likely to be found in older cities and homes built before 1986.

You can’t smell or taste lead in drinking water.

To find out for certain if you have lead in drinking water, have your water tested.

Remember older homes with a private well can also have plumbing materials that contain lead.

Important Steps You Can Take to Reduce Lead in Drinking Water

Use only cold water for drinking, cooking and making baby formula. Remember, boiling water does not remove lead from water.

Before drinking, flush your home’s pipes by running the tap, taking a shower, doing laundry, or doing a load of dishes.

Regularly clean your faucet’s screen (also known as an aerator).

If you use a filter certified to remove lead, don’t forget to read the directions to learn when to change the cartridge. Using a filter after it has expired can make it less effective at removing lead.

Contact your water company to determine if the pipe that connects your home to the water main (called a service line) is made from lead. Your area’s water company can also provide information about the lead levels in your system’s drinking water.

For more information about lead in drinking water, please contact EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791. If you have other questions about lead poisoning prevention, call 1-800 424-LEAD.*

Call your local health department or water company to find out about testing your water, or visit for EPA’s lead in drinking water information. Some states or utilities offer programs to pay for water testing for residents. Contact your state or local water company to learn more.

Lead smelters or other industries that release lead into the air.

Your job. If you work with lead, you could bring it home on your body or clothes. Shower and change clothes before coming home. Launder your work clothes separately from the rest of your family’s clothes.

Hobbies that use lead, such as making pottery or stained glass, or refinishing furniture. Call your local health department for information about hobbies that may use lead.

Old toys and furniture may have been painted with lead-containing paint. Older toys and other children’s products may have parts that contain lead.4

Food and liquids cooked or stored in lead crystal or lead-glazed pottery or porcelain may contain lead.

Folk remedies, such as “greta” and “azarcon,” used to treat an upset stomach.

For More Information

The National Lead Information Center

Call 1-800-424-LEAD (424-5323) to learn how to protect children from lead poisoning and for other information on lead hazards. To access lead information via the web, visit and

EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline

For information about lead in drinking water, call 1-800-426-4791, or visit for information about lead in drinking water.

Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Hotline

For information on lead in toys and other consumer products, or to report an unsafe consumer product or a product-related injury, call 1-800-638-2772, or visit CPSC’s website at or

State and Local Health and Environmental Agencies

Some states, tribes, and cities have their own rules related to lead-based paint. Check with your local agency to see which laws apply to you. Most agencies can also provide information on finding a lead abatement firm in your area, and on possible sources of financial aid for reducing lead hazards. Receive up-to-date address and phone information for your state or local contacts on the Web at, or contact the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD.

For the hearing impaired, call the Federal Information Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 to access any of the phone numbers in this brochure.


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