Lead in Homes

Lead in Homes

Lead is a very toxic metal. Exposure to lead in children, pregnant women, and other adults can cause many health problems. It is very important to prevent exposure to lead since it’s effects cannot be reversed.

Lead can be found in and around homes. Lead-based paint and the dust it creates are the most dangerous sources of lead in the home. Most paint sold before 1978 had lead in it. If a home was built before 1978, it probably has some lead-based paint. Homes built before 1960 are very likely to have lead-based paint. Lead can also be found in unexpected things like varnish, stain, or even some wallpaper preparations.

When painted surfaces are damaged, the lead in paint can turn to dust. Lead dust is very dangerous. Painted surfaces get damaged when they are bumped or rubbed often, such as on doorframes or window sills), and when paint chips, cracks, or peels. Even recently painted surfaces can be dangerous if damaged because layers of old lead-based paint may be underneath the new paint. Lead dust can come from repairing areas with lead-based paint, opening and closing windows, and through normal use of painted areas.

Lead dust is most harmful to children and pregnant women. Lead dust settles on surfaces and is very hard to see. A surface that looks clean may have lead dust on it. Lead dust can be found in and around windows, on floors, or on furniture. When people swallow lead dust, the lead gets into the body and can cause lead poisoning. Lead dust on floors gets on children’s hands and toys. Young children can swallow lead dust when they put their hands and toys in their mouths. Children can also become lead poisoned by eating, chewing, or sucking on things with lead-based paint, such as window sills, railings, or other painted surfaces.

Many organizations have been working hard to reduce the number of lead poisoned children in the United States. In 1978, almost 4 million children in the U.S.had elevated blood lead levels. By the year 2000, the number dropped to 434,000 children. The number of houses with lead-based paint fell from 64 million in 1990 to 38 million in 2000. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are federal agencies that work to prevent childhood lead poisoning. They educate people about lead poisoning and fund local services. The EPA and HUD both have good information about lead and housing on their websites.

This section provides information about lead in homes and covers the following topics:

For more information on lead, including lead poisoning, regulations about lead, and preventing lead exposure, contact the National Lead Information Center.

Information provided from the WorldWideWeb at www.leadsafehomes.info