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Protect Your Family From Lead Book





Printed with vegetable oil based inks on recycled paper

(minimum 50% postconsumer) process chlorine free.


If you think your home has high

levels of lead:


Get your young children tested for lead, even if

they seem healthy.


Wash children’s hands, bottles, pacifiers, and toys



Make sure children eat healthy, low-fat foods.


Get your home checked for lead hazards.


Regularly clean floors, window sills, and other



Wipe soil off shoes before entering house.


Talk to your landlord about fixing surfaces with

peeling or chipping paint.


Take precautions to avoid exposure to lead dust

when remodeling or renovating (call 1-800-424-

LEAD for guidelines).


Don’t use a belt-sander, propane torch, high

temperature heat gun, scraper, or sandpaper on

painted surfaces that may contain lead.


Don’t try to remove lead-based paint yourself.


Simple Steps To Protect Your Family

From Lead Hazards






Lead In




United States


Protection Agency

United States

Consumer Product

Safety Commission

United States

Department of Housing

and Urban Development


Many houses and apartments built before 1978 have

paint that contains high levels of lead (called leadbased

paint). Lead from paint, chips, and dust can

pose serious health hazards if not taken care of properly.



encouraged to check for lead (see page 6)

before renting, buying or renovating pre-

1978 housing.


Federal law requires that individuals receive certain

information before renting, buying, or renovating

pre-1978 housing:


LANDLORDS have to disclose known information

on lead-based paint and lead-based

paint hazards before leases take effect.

Leases must include a disclosure 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 about

lead-based paint. Buyers have up to 10

days to check for lead.


RENOVATORS disturbing more than 2 square

feet of painted surfaces have to give you

this pamphlet before starting work.


Are You Planning To Buy, Rent, or Renovate

a Home Built Before 1978?




Lead From Paint, Dust, and

Soil Can Be Dangerous If Not

Managed Properly


FACT: Lead exposure can harm young

children and babies even before they

are born.


FACT: Even children who seem healthy can

have high levels of lead in their bodies.


FACT: People can get lead in their bodies by

breathing or swallowing lead dust, or by

eating soil or paint chips containing



FACT: People have many options for reducing

lead hazards. In most cases, lead-based

paint that is in good condition is not a



FACT: Removing lead-based paint improperly

can increase the danger to your family.

If you think your home might have lead

hazards, read this pamphlet to learn some

simple steps to protect your family.





People can get lead in their body if they:


 Breathe in lead dust (especially during

renovations that disturb painted



 Put their hands or other objects

covered with lead dust in their mouths.


 Eat paint chips or soil that contains



Lead is even more dangerous to children

under the age of 6:


 At this age children’s brains and nervous

systems are more sensitive to the damaging

effects of lead.


 Children’s growing bodies absorb more



 Babies and young children often put

their hands and other objects in their

mouths. These objects can have lead

dust on them.


Lead is also dangerous to women of

childbearing age:


 Women with a high lead level in their

system prior to pregnancy would expose

a fetus to lead through the placenta

during fetal development.


Lead Gets in the Body in Many Ways





remains a




problem in

the U.S.


Even children

who appear

healthy can

have dangerous

levels of

lead in their





Lead’s Effects


It is important to know that even exposure

to low levels of lead can severely harm



In children, lead can cause:


 Nervous system and kidney damage.


 Learning disabilities, attention deficit

disorder, and decreased intelligence.


 Speech, language, and behavior



 Poor muscle coordination.


 Decreased muscle and bone growth.


 Hearing damage.

While low-lead exposure is most

common, exposure to high levels of

lead can have devastating effects on

children, including seizures, unconsciousness,

and, in some cases, death.

Although children are especially

susceptible to lead exposure, lead

can be dangerous for adults too.


In adults, lead can cause:


 Increased chance of illness during



 Harm to a fetus, including brain

damage or death.


 Fertility problems (in men and women).


 High blood pressure.


 Digestive problems.


 Nerve disorders.


 Memory and concentration problems.


 Muscle and joint pain.


Brain or Nerve Damage











Lead affects

the body in

many ways.




Many homes built before 1978 have leadbased

paint. The federal government

banned lead-based paint from housing in

1978. Some states stopped its use even

earlier. Lead can be found:


 In homes in the city, country, or suburbs.


 In apartments, single-family homes, and

both private and public housing.


 Inside and outside of the house.


 In soil around a home. (Soil can pick up

lead from exterior paint or other sources

such as past use of leaded gas in cars.)


To reduce your child's exposure to lead,

get your child checked, have your home

tested (especially if your home has paint

in poor condition and was built before

1978), and fix any hazards you may have.


Children's blood lead levels tend to increase

rapidly from 6 to 12 months of age, and

tend to peak at 18 to 24 months of age.

Consult your doctor for advice on testing

your children. A simple blood test can

detect high levels of lead. Blood tests are

usually recommended for:


 Children at ages 1 and 2.


 Children or other family members who

have been exposed to high levels of lead.


 Children who should be tested under

your state or local health screening plan.

Your doctor can explain what the test results

mean and if more testing will be needed.


Get your

children and

home tested

if you think

your home

has high levels

of lead.


Checking Your Family for Lead

Where Lead-Based Paint Is Found


In general,

the older your

home, the

more likely it

has leadbased



Lead-based paint is usually not a hazard if

it is in good condition, and it is not on an

impact or friction surface, like a window. It

is defined by the federal government as

paint with lead levels greater than or equal

to 1.0 milligram per square centimeter, or

more than 0.5% by weight.


Deteriorating lead-based paint (peeling,

chipping, chalking, cracking or damaged)


is a hazard and needs immediate attention.

It may also be a hazard when found on surfaces

that children can chew or that get a

lot of wear-and-tear, such as:


 Windows and window sills.


 Doors and door frames.


 Stairs, railings, banisters, and porches.


Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is scraped, sanded, or

heated. Dust also forms when painted surfaces bump or rub together.

Lead chips and dust can get on surfaces and objects that people

touch. Settled lead dust can re-enter the air when people vacuum,

sweep, or walk through it. The following two federal standards have

been set for lead hazards in dust:


 40 micrograms per square foot (μg/ft2) and higher for floors,

including carpeted floors.


 250 μg/ft2 and higher for interior window sills.


Lead in soil can be a hazard when children play in bare soil or

when people bring soil into the house on their shoes. The following

two federal standards have been set for lead hazards in residential



 400 parts per million (ppm) and higher in play areas of bare soil.


 1,200 ppm (average) and higher in bare soil in the remainder of

the yard.

The only way to find out if paint, dust and soil lead hazards exist is

to test for them. The next page describes the most common methods



Lead from

paint chips,

which you

can see, and

lead dust,

which you

can’t always

see, can both

be serious



Identifying Lead Hazards





You can get your home tested for lead in

several different ways:


 A paint inspection tells you whether your

home has lead-based paint and where it

is located. It won’t tell you whether or not

your home currently has lead hazards.


 A risk assessment tells you if your home

currently has any lead hazards from lead

in paint, dust, or soil. It also tells you what

actions to take to address any hazards.


 A combination risk assessment and

inspection tells you if your home has

any lead hazards and if your home has

any lead-based paint, and where the

lead-based paint is located.

Hire a trained and certified testing professional

who will use a range of reliable

methods when testing your home.


 Visual inspection of paint condition

and location.


 A portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF)



 Lab tests of paint, dust, and soil


There are state and federal programs in

place to ensure that testing is done safely,

reliably, and effectively. Contact your state

or local agency (see bottom of page 11) for

more information, or call 1-800-424-LEAD

(5323) for a list of contacts in your area.


Home test kits for lead are available, but

may not always be accurate. Consumers

should not rely on these kits before doing

renovations or to assure safety.


Checking Your Home for Lead


Just knowing

that a home

has leadbased


may not tell

you if there

is a hazard.




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 or sponge with warm water and a

general all-purpose cleaner or a cleaner

made specifically for lead. REMEMBER:





 Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop

heads after cleaning dirty or dusty



 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



 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.


What You Can Do Now To Protect

Your Family




In addition to day-to-day cleaning and good



 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



 To permanently remove lead hazards,

you should 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 not permanent removal.

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 as set by their state or by the federal


Once the work is completed, dust cleanup

activities must be repeated until testing

indicates that lead dust levels are below the



 40 micrograms per square foot (μg/ft2)

for floors, including carpeted floors;


 250 μg/ft2 for interior windows sills; and


 400 μg/ft2 for window troughs.

Call your state or local agency (see bottom

of page 11) for help in locating certified

professionals in your area and to see if

financial assistance is available.


Reducing Lead Hazards In The Home





can increase

the hazard to

your family

by spreading

even more

lead dust

around the



Always use a

professional who

is trained to

remove lead

hazards safely.


Take precautions before your contractor or

you begin remodeling or renovating anything

that disturbs painted surfaces (such

as scraping off paint or tearing out walls):


 Have the area tested for lead-based



 Do not use a belt-sander, propane

torch, high temperature 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. You can find out

about other safety measures by calling

1-800-424-LEAD. Ask for the brochure

“Reducing Lead Hazards When

Remodeling Your Home.” This brochure

explains what to do before, during,

and after renovations.

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 on page 7 of this



Remodeling or Renovating a Home With

Lead-Based Paint


If not



certain types

of renovations


release lead

from paint

and dust into

the air.






 Drinking water. Your home might have

plumbing with lead or lead solder. Call

your local health department or water

supplier to find out about testing your

water. You cannot see, smell, or taste

lead, and boiling your water will not get

rid of lead. If you think your plumbing

might have lead in it:

• Use only cold water for drinking and


• Run water for 15 to 30 seconds

before drinking it, especially if you

have not used your water for a few



 The job. If you work with lead, you

could bring it home on your hands or

clothes. Shower and change clothes

before coming home. Launder your work

clothes separately from the rest of your

family’s clothes.


 Old painted toys and furniture.


 Food and liquids stored in lead crystal


or lead-glazed pottery or porcelain.


 Lead smelters or other industries that

release lead into the air.


 Hobbies that use lead, such as making

pottery or stained glass, or refinishing



 Folk remedies that contain lead, such as

“greta” and “azarcon” used to treat an

upset stomach.


Other Sources of Lead


While paint, dust,

and soil are the

most common

sources of lead,

other lead

sources also exist.




The National Lead Information Center


Call 1-800-424-LEAD (424-5323) to learn

how to protect children from lead poisoning

and for other information on lead hazards.

To access lead information via the web, visit


www.epa.gov/lead and



EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline


Call 1-800-426-4791 for information about

lead in drinking water.


Consumer Product Safety

Commission (CPSC) Hotline


To request information on lead in

consumer products, or to report an

unsafe consumer product or a product-

related injury call 1-800-638-

2772, or visit CPSC's Web site at:



Health and Environmental Agencies


Some cities, states, and tribes have

their own rules for lead-based paint

activities. Check with your local agency to

see which laws apply to you. Most agencies

can also provide information on finding a

lead abatement firm in your area, and on

possible sources of financial aid for reducing

lead hazards. Receive up-to-date address

and phone information for your local contacts

on the Internet at www.epa.gov/lead


or contact the National Lead Information

Center at 1-800-424-LEAD.


For More Information


For the hearing impaired, call the Federal Information

Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 to access any of

the phone numbers in this brochure.




EPA Regional Offices

Region 1 (Connecticut, Massachusetts,

Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island,


Regional Lead Contact

U.S. EPA Region 1

Suite 1100 (CPT)

One Congress Street

Boston, MA 02114-2023

1 (888) 372-7341


Region 2 (New Jersey, New York,

Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands)

Regional Lead Contact

U.S. EPA Region 2

2890 Woodbridge Avenue

Building 209, Mail Stop 225

Edison, NJ 08837-3679

(732) 321-6671


Region 3 (Delaware, Maryland,

Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington DC,

West Virginia)

Regional Lead Contact

U.S. EPA Region 3 (3WC33)

1650 Arch Street

Philadelphia, PA 19103

(215) 814-5000


Region 4 (Alabama, Florida, Georgia,

Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina,

South Carolina, Tennessee)

Regional Lead Contact

U.S. EPA Region 4

61 Forsyth Street, SW

Atlanta, GA 30303

(404) 562-8998


Region 5 (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan,

Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin)

Regional Lead Contact

U.S. EPA Region 5 (DT-8J)

77 West Jackson Boulevard

Chicago, IL 60604-3666

(312) 886-6003


EPA Regional Offices


Region 6 (Arkansas, Louisiana, New

Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas)

Regional Lead Contact

U.S. EPA Region 6

1445 Ross Avenue, 12th Floor

Dallas, TX 75202-2733

(214) 665-7577


Region 7 (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri,


Regional Lead Contact

U.S. EPA Region 7


901 N. 5th Street

Kansas City, KS 66101

(913) 551-7020


Region 8 (Colorado, Montana, North

Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming)

Regional Lead Contact

U.S. EPA Region 8

999 18th Street, Suite 500

Denver, CO 80202-2466

(303) 312-6021


Region 9 (Arizona, California, Hawaii,


Regional Lead Contact

U.S. Region 9

75 Hawthorne Street

San Francisco, CA 94105

(415) 947-4164


Region 10 (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon,


Regional Lead Contact

U.S. EPA Region 10

Toxics Section WCM-128

1200 Sixth Avenue

Seattle, WA 98101-1128

(206) 553-1985


Your Regional EPA Office can provide further information regarding

regulations and lead protection programs.


CPSC Regional Offices


Eastern Regional Center


Consumer Product Safety Commission

201 Varick Street, Room 903

New York, NY 10014

(212) 620-4120


Central Regional Center


Consumer Product Safety Commission

230 South Dearborn Street, Room 2944

Chicago, IL 60604

(312) 353-8260


Western Regional Center


Consumer Product Safety Commission

1301 Clay Street, Suite 610-N

Oakland, CA 94612

(510) 637-4050


HUD Lead Office




Please contact HUD's Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard

Control for information on lead regulations, outreach efforts, and

lead hazard control and research grant programs.


U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development


Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control

451 Seventh Street, SW, P-3206

Washington, DC 20410

(202) 755-1785


Your Regional CPSC Office can provide further information regarding

regulations and consumer product safety.


U.S. EPA Washington DC 20460 EPA747-K-99-001

U.S. CPSC Washington DC 20207 June 2003

U.S. HUD Washington DC 20410


This document is in the public domain. It may be reproduced by an individual or

organization without permission. Information provided in this booklet is based

upon current scientific and technical understanding of the issues presented and

is reflective of the jurisdictional boundaries established by the statutes governing

the co-authoring agencies. Following the advice given will not necessarily provide

complete protection in all situations or against all health hazards that can

be caused by lead exposure.