What Everyone Should Know About Lead-Based Paint.

What Everyone Should Know About Lead-Based Paint.


The federal government outlawed lead-based paint in 1978. However, even though the interiors and exteriors of all pre-1978 homes may have subsequently been repainted, lead is toxic and represents a very significant health hazard.

The E.P.A estimates that homes built before 1978 have about a 75% chance of having lead-based paint. The older the home the greater the likelihood that lead paint was used when it was originally built. To wit, the EPA estimates that homes built between 1960 & 1978 have a 24% chance, construction between 1940 & 1960 carry a 69% chance, while those built before 1940 have a 87% chance.

Medical conditions associated with exposure to lead.

  1. Possible effects on children:
  2. Nervous system & kidney damage;
  3. Learning disabilities (e.g., ADD) & decreased intelligence;
  4. Speech & behavioral problems;
  5. Decreased muscle & bone growth;
  6. Hearing damage.
  7. Possible effects on adults:
  8. High blood pressure;
  9. Fertility problems (both sexes;)
  10. Nerve disorders & memory & concentration problems;
  11. Harm to a fetus, including brain damage and death, etc.

How does lead enter the body?

  1. Breathe in lead dust (e.g., during renovations where lead paint is disturbed via sanding, scraping, demolition, etc.)
  2. Children may eat paint chips, which are sweet, or contaminated soil.
  3. Contact with objects containing lead (e.g., old toys, furniture, lead-glazed pottery, etc.) Children are especially susceptible, since they often put their fingers in their mouths.


The most common lead hazards in homes.

Lead-based paint is usually not a hazard if it is in good condition, and it is not on an impact or friction surface. Lead-based paint becomes a problem when it deteriorates and the surface begins to chip, peel, crack or chalk. Such deterioration is most often associated with the following:

  1. Windows, window sills and frames;
  2. Door and door frames;
  3. Stairs, banisters, railings and porches.

If you live in a pre-1978 home, be sure to test for lead-based paint before starting any renovation.

Federal E.P.A Regulations

Assuming a home has been tested and found to contain lead-based paint, Federal law requires that specific safety measures be taken by an individual homeowner or contractor who intends to refurbish/renovate any painted interior space of more than 6 sq ft, any painted exterior space of more than 20 sq ft and/or any window replacement. Should a renovation involve areas exceeding these limits, the contractor must be E.P.A. certified.

To learn more about the required safety measures or to find a certified contractor, contact the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-5323 or epa.gov/lead/NLIC. Two very informative E.P.A. pamphlets are called “Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home” and “The Lead-Safe Certified Guide To Renovate Right.” The Protect Your Family pamphlet is something every Realtor is required to give to their buyers, who are considering pre-1978 homes.  Renovation contractors are required to give renters and homeowners the Renovate Right pamphlet before starting any renovation involving pre-1978 structures. Contact the E.P.A. for a copy or feel free to contact me.

The photo was taken from a book about the life of Geo. Rogers Clark. Circa 1890s.

Call, text or email me with any questions, or if you need a Realtor to sell your home and/or find your next one! 502.807.4999

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