Many homes built before 1978 have lead based paint in them which can pose a serious health hazard. Federal law requires that sellers and/or landlords disclose known information on lead based paint hazards before selling/leasing a house. In addition, if you are renovating, repairing or painting a house built before 1978 lead safe work practices need to be followed by lead safe certified contractors.
Lead paint can be harmful to children and adults if ingested. Lead paint dust can result from repairs or renovations when lead paint is disturbed, and can be inhaled or it can settle on food or food preparation surfaces and be consumed. Small children may also eat lead paint chips. Lead is especially dangerous to children under the age of 6 because it can affect their nervous systems and brain development and to pregnant women because high lead levels in their system can transfer to the baby and affect fetal development.
If you are unsure whether or not your home has lead based paint it can be tested by a trained certified lead paint inspector. You can find local inspectors on the EPA website at www.epa.gov/lead. There are ways to minimize hazards from lead based paint in your home before abatement. Carefully clean up paint chips so as not to create dust, use a mop or sponge with warm water to clean floors, baseboards and window frames and rinse thoroughly and wash children’s hands thoroughly and often, especially before eating.
There are other sources of lead in addition to paint that you need to be aware of. Lead pipes in older homes can cause led poisoning in the drinking water and should also be tested, lead can be present in the soil around your home, old toys and furniture may have be painted with lead paint and pottery, pans, dishes or crystal may also have lead in the paint or finishes. You should be aware of the potential for lead contamination and take appropriate action to mitigate or abate the potential hazards in your home.
If you are selling or leasing residential property Federal law requires disclosure of the potential for lead paint hazards to a buyer/tenant at the time a contract for purchase is written or a lease is executed, as well as providing a pamphlet that explains the risks and hazards associated with lead. This law applies to all residential property built before 1978 that is being sold or leased regardless of whether a Realtor is involved in the transaction.
For more information on lead paint hazards talk to your local health department or visit the EPA’s website at www.epa.gov/lead.