Want to remodel or repaint, but think you may have lead paint in your home? Wondering what to do about it?

We asked the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Consumer Products Safety Commission for advice.


We know: How to Remove Lead Paint

What is lead paint?

Lead was used as a pigment and drying agent in "alkyd" oil-based paint. Latex water based paints have generally not contained lead.


In 1978, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission lowered the legal maximum lead content in most kinds of paint to a trace amount. If your home was constructed before the 1980s, consider having it tested for lead before renovating or if the paint or underlying surface is deteriorating.

Whatís a so dangerous about lead paint?

Lead-based paint is a major source of lead poisoning for children and can also affect adults. Lead poisoning in children can cause irreversible brain damage and can impair mental functioning.

Where is lead paint found?

Most homes built before 1978 have some lead paint. Homes built before 1960 have the most lead paint. Lead paint can be present on any painted surface, but it is most often found on windows, trim, doors, railings, columns, porches and outside walls. Surfaces that have been repainted may have layers of lead paint underneath. A lead inspection can tell you where lead paint is located.

What are the dangers of repainting or remodeling?

Disturbing lead paint by such things as sanding or scraping can release large amounts of toxic lead dust. The dust, which may not be visible, can settle on floors and other surfaces, where it gets on children's hands and into their mouths.

What should I do if I have lead paint in my home?

You can help protect yourself by:

  • Having the painted item replaced.
  • Cover the lead-based paint with a sealant or gypsum wallboard. (This is not a long-term solution.)
  • Have the lead-based paint removed by a professional contractor. Be sure the professionals contain the lead dust. Wet-wipe all surfaces to remove any dust or paint chips. Wet-clean the area before re-entry.
  • Reduce lead dust exposure by periodically wet mopping and wiping surfaces and floors with a high phosphorous (at least 5%) cleaning solution. Wear waterproof gloves to prevent skin irritation. Avoid activities that will disturb or damage lead based paint and create dust.


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