Should I worry about lead paint in my home?

We've all heard the horror stories about the dangers of lead paint in older homes. Learn more about which homes could be
We've all heard the horror stories about the dangers of lead paint in older homes. Lead paint poses a threat to adults, but is especially dangerous for children under the age of six and pregnant women. Lead poisoning may cause a host of problems, some of which are: learning disabilities, speech and language problems, damage to the nervous system, stunted growth, kidney damage and hearing loss.

Lead paint was banned in the U.S. in 1977 by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to reduce the risk of lead poisoning in young children who ingest paint chips or peelings. The ban also applied to toys and furniture coated with lead paint. If your home was built in 1978 or later, you probably don't have much to worry about. However, if you home was built before 1978 there is a good chance that lead paint is lurking behind layers of fresh paint. Homes built before 1960 have the most amount of lead paint.

How Do Children Get Lead Poisoning?

The common perception is that children are poisoned by eating paint. But, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), most children are poisoned by invisible lead dust created when paint chips, peels, or is damaged or disturbed. This dust settles on surfaces where it can get on children's hands and toys and eventually finds its way into their mouths. HUD lists windows, trim, doors, railings, columns, porches and outside walls as the most likely places to find lead.

Does My Home Have Lead?

If you live in a home built before 1978 and want to know whether lead is present, contact a home inspector. Home testing kits are also available, but a professional inspector is trained to detect lead in the home and provide recommendations on how to reduce or eliminate the threat.If you are doing any home remodeling or renovation, be aware that any scraping, sanding or otherwise disturbing lead paint can release lead dust into the air. Children and pregnant women should always be kept away from the work area. As of April 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires all renovators working in a home built prior to 1978 and who will disturb more than six square feet of lead paint to be RRP (Renovation, Repair, Painting) certified. If you are doing the work yourself, make sure to follow all safety precautions for dealing with lead. Due to the potential for serious health problems for yourself and others, you may want to seriously consider hiring a professional.

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