What You Can do to Protect Your Family
If you suspect that your house has lead hazards, you can take some immediate steps to reduce your family's risk:
If you rent, notify your landlord of peeling or chipping paint.
Clean up paint chips immediately.
Clean floors, window frames, window sills, and other surfaces weekly.
Use a mop, sponge, or paper towel with warm water and a general
all-purpose cleaner or a cleaner made specifically for lead. Remember:
never mix ammonia and bleach products together since they can form a
Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty or dusty areas.
Wash children's hands often, especially before they eat and before nap time and bed time.
Keep play areas clean. Wash bottles, pacifiers, toys, and stuffed animals regularly.
Keep children from chewing window sills or other painted surfaces.
Clean or remove shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking in lead from soil.
Make sure children eat nutritious, low-fat meals high in iron and
calcium, such as spinach and dairy products. Children with good diets
absorb less lead.
Other Prevention Steps
In addition to day-to-day cleaning and good nutrition:
You can temporarily reduce lead hazards by taking actions such as
repairing damaged painted surfaces and planting grass to cover soil with
high lead levels. These actions (called "interim controls") are not
permanent solutions and will need ongoing attention.
permanently remove lead hazards, you must hire a certified lead
"abatement" contractor. Abatement (or permanent hazard elimination)
methods include removing, sealing, or enclosing lead-based paint with
special materials. Just painting over the hazard with regular paint is
Always hire a person with special training for
correcting lead problems--someone who knows how to do this work safely
and has the proper equipment to clean up thoroughly. Certified
contractors will employ qualified workers and follow strict safety rules
set by their state or the federal government.
National Lead Information Center (NLIC) for help with locating certified
contractors in your area and to see if financial assistance is
Are You Planning to Buy or Rent a Home Built Before 1978?
Many houses and apartments built before 1978 have paint that contains
lead (called lead-based paint). Lead from paint, chips, and dust can
pose serious health hazards if not taken care of properly. Federal law
requires that individuals receive certain information before renting or
buying a pre-1978 housing.
Residential Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Program
Landlords have to disclose known information on lead-based paint and
lead-based paint hazards before leases take effect. Leases must include a
disclosure form about lead-based paint.
Sellers have to
disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint
hazards before selling a house. Sales contracts must include a
disclosure form about lead-based paint. Buyers have up to 10 days to
check for lead hazards.
More information on the disclosure program.
Remodeling or Renovating a Home with Lead-Based Paint
If not conducted properly, certain types of renovations can release
lead from paint and dust into the air. Many houses and apartments built
before 1978 have paint that contains lead (called lead-based paint).
Lead from paint, chips, and dust can pose serious health hazards if not
taken care of properly. Federal law requires that contractors provide
lead information to residents before renovating a pre-1978 housing.
Pre-Renovation Education Program (PRE)
Renovators have to give you a pamphlet titled "Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home", before starting work.
More information on the Pre-Renovation Education Program.
Take precautions before your contractor or you begin remodeling or
renovations that disturb painted surfaces (such as scraping off paint or
tearing out walls):
Have the area tested for lead-based paint.
Do not use a belt-sander, propane torch, heat gun, dry scraper, or dry
sandpaper to remove lead-based paint. These actions create large amounts
of lead dust and fumes.
Lead dust can remain in your home long after the work is done.
Temporarily move your family (especially children and pregnant women)
out of the apartment or house until the work is done and the area is
properly cleaned. If you can't move your family, at least completely
seal off the work area.
Follow other safety measures to reduce lead hazards.
If you have already completed renovations or remodeling that could have
released lead-based paint or dust, get your young children tested and
follow the steps outlined to protect your family.