Lead was used in paint and gasoline before 1978 and is known to be toxic. Lead poisoning, caused by an accumulation of lead in the bloodstream over the long or short term, damages the brain, kidneys and nerves. It is injested by eating paint chips, putting hands which have touched unstable lead paint in the mouth and inhaling lead dust. Children and pregnant women are especially susceptible. One in 11 children in America has dangerous levels of lead in their blood.
Landlords have to disclose known information on lead-based paint hazards before leases take effect. Leases will include a federal form about lead-based paint. Sellers have to disclose known information on lead-based paint hazards before selling a house. Sales contracts will include a federal form about lead-based paint in the building. Buyers will have up to 10 days to check for lead hazards.
Renovators have to give you this pamphlet before starting work. If you want more information on these requirements, call the National Lead Information Clearinghouse at 1-800-424-LEAD.
Lead can be found in flaking, peeling paint on older homes and in the paint chips and dust generated through renovating lead-painted surfaces.
Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is dry scraped, dry sanded or heated. Dust also forms when painted surfaces bump or rub together. Lead chips and dust can get on surfaces and objects that people touch. Settled lead dust can reenter the air when people vacuum, sweep or walk through it. It is also used in the production of windows. Outdoors it can be found in dirt permeated with exhaust from lead based gasoline.
Lead in soil can be a hazard when children play in bare soil or when people bring soil into the house on their shoes.
Peeling, chipping, chalking or cracking lead-based 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. These areas include: windows and window sills, doors and door frames, stairs, railings and banisters, porches and fences.
Other commonly encountered interior painted components include air conditioners, electrical fixtures, radiators and other heating units, built-in cabinets, countertops and all types of wood surfaces, including baseboards, beams, crown moulding, doors, trim, and siding.
When disturbing or making repairs on materials painted with lead or remodeling homes constructed with materials painted with or made of lead, a certified asbestos abatement contractor must properly remove all affected hazardous materials according to OSHA regulated practices. Outdoors, soil that contains lead must also be properly handled.