Lead Based Paint Facts and Disclosures

Lead paint is a potential health risk. Depending on the level of exposure, lead can cause damage to the brain and nervous system, behavior problems, slowed growth, headaches, difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, digestive problems and muscle and joint pain.

Lead can affect everyone in the family, but children are often at highest risk, especially small children who don't hesitate to put things in their mouths.

One of the primary sources of exposure is the lead-based paint that often exists in homes that were built prior to 1978, when the Federal Government banned its use in residential structures. Federal regulations require that sellers provide lead-based paint disclosures to home buyers who are purchasing a home built before 1978.

  • Sellers must disclose in writing any information about known lead-based paint in the home. If sellers have performed lead tests, they must share the test results.
  • Sales contracts must give buyers up to 10 days to check for lead hazards. Home buyers aren't required to do the check--but they must be given the opportunity. Watch for this information on a special form attached to the contract.

  • Home sellers must give home buyers a copy of the EPA publication "Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home." If you're dealing with a real estate agency, your agent should provide the pamphlet.

  • Similar lead disclosure regulations apply to landlords and tenants.
Likely Sources of Lead
Lead paint that is intact--with no cracking, chipping or wear--is less likely to pose health risks. If your home could contain lead-based paints, correct or stay aware of the following situations: Peeling, chipping, or cracking paints. Lead paint on areas that small children might chew on, or areas susceptible to wear and tear that causes cracking or exposure to underlying layers of paints: stair railings, banisters, window sills, door frames, porches, fences. Lead dust that results when paint is sanded or dry scraped. Lead in the soil surrounding your home, caused by flaking lead paints on its exterior. Lead can be tracked inside on shoes or can be a risk to children playing outside.

Other Sources of Lead
Lead-based paint isn't the only potential source of lead in your home.
  • Lead in drinking water when plumbing contains lead or lead solder. Have your water tested for lead, since it cannot be detected by taste or smell.

  • Old painted toys or furniture.

  • Industries that release lead into the air.

  • Hobbies that use items containing lead: stained glass, pottery, furniture refinishing.
So What Can You Do About Lead?
Ongoing, Temporary "Fixes"
  • Temporarily reduce lead hazards by repairing damaged painted surfaces and planting grass to cover soil with high lead levels.

  • Clean up paint chips right away.

  • Clean painted surfaces weekly, then thoroughly rinse your cleaning tools.

  • Wash children's hands frequently; wash toys and other items they play with regularly.

  • Keep children from chewing on painted surfaces.

  • Eat nutritious meals that are high in iron and calcium. Children and adults with good diets absorb less lead.

Permanent Lead Removal
Permanent removal requires work by a certified lead abatement contractor who will remove lead paint or seal and enclose it with special materials.

Lead testing may be common in some areas, but I have never met a home seller who has tested for the presence of lead-based paints. So don't be alarmed or suspicious if your seller has no lead paint information to share. Although lead paint can be dangerous, its presence shouldn't be enough to keep you from buying a home you love unless you feel the paint is in such terrible condition that it poses a true health threat.

Visit the EPA's Web site for in-depth information about identifying and dealing with lead hazards in the environment and in your home.



Buyer's Guide

Tips for First Time Buyers

Buyer Frequently Asked Questions

10 Things Buyers Should Avoid

What To Do First: Buy or Sell?

Making an Offer


Simplify the Home Buying Process

Relieving the Stress of Packing

Land Buying Advice

Real Estate Glossary

Facts About Easements

Facts about Radon & Radon Testing

Lead Based Paint Facts & Disclosures

Mold in the Home

Saying "I Do" to First Homes

What is a CMA and Why Do You Need One?

How to Negotiate with Sellers



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