All You Wanted to Know About Lead (part 2)

On the July 16th installment of the Dr Rent Radio Show, we discussed how lead is a hazard in your homes. The biggest thing most of hear about is lead-based paint. But that is only one possible source of lead.

Yesterday, I took the main text of that radio program and covered it in my blog. Using the EPA website as a source (, we looked at some facts about lead, the health effects of lead, where lead is found, and where lead is likely to be a hazard.

To not make the blog entry too long, I decided to call it quits there and finish up with this second blog entry on the same topic. Again, this information is straight from the EPA’s website.

Just knowing that a home has lead-based paint may not tell you if there is a hazard.

To reduce your child’s exposure to lead, get your child checked, have your home tested (especially if you home has paint in poor condition and was built before 1978), and fix any hazards you may have.

In checking your family for lead hazards, 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 important for children at ages one and two as well as for children and other family members who have been exposed to high levels of lead. In addition, blood tests are important for children who should be tested under state or local health screening plans. Your doctor can explain what the test results mean and if more testing will be needed.

In checking your home for lead hazards, you can get it checked in one of two ways (or both). A paint inspection tells you the lead content of every different type of painted surface in your home. It won’t tell you whether the paint is a hazard or how you should deal with it. A risk assessment tells you if there are any sources of serious lead exposure (such as peeling paint and lead dust). It also tells you what actions to take to address these hazards.

If work is needed, have qualified professionals do the work. There are standards in place for certifying lead-based paint professionals to ensure the work is done safely, reliably, and effectively. Contact the National Lead Information Center (NLIC) for a list of contacts in your area. Trained professionals use a range of methods when checking your home, including visual inspection of paint condition and location, a portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) machine, lab tests of paint samples, and surface dust tests.

NOTE: Home test kits for lead are available, but studies suggest that they are not always accurate. Consumers should not rely on these tests before doing renovations or to assure safety.

If you suspect that your house has lead hazards, you can take some immediate steps to reduce your family’s risk, including…

– 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, sponge, or paper towel with warm water and a general all-purpose cleaner or a cleaner made specifically for lead. (Remember, NEVER mix ammonia and bleach products together since they can form a dangerous gas!)
– Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty or dusty areas.
– 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 regularly.
– Keep children from chewing window sills or other painted surfaces.
– Clean or remove shoes before entering your home to avoid track in lead from soil.
– Make sure children eat healthy and nutritious meals as recommended by the National Dietary Guidelines. Children with good diets absorb less lead.

Additional steps you can take include….

– 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 are not permanent solutions and will need ongoing attention.
– To permanently remove lead hazards, you must 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 enough.
– 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 set by their state or the federal government.
– Contact the National Lead Information Center (NLIC) for help with locating certified contractors in your area and to see if financial assistance is available.

Many houses and apartments built before 1978 have paint that contains lead. Lead from paint, chips, and dust can pose serious health hazards if not taken care of properly. Federal law (the Residential Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Program) requires that individuals receive certain information before renting or buying pre-1978 housing.

If you are going to be renting, Landlords have to disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before leases take effect. Leases must include a disclosure form about lead-based paint.

If you are buying a home, 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 form about lead-based paint. Buyers have up to ten days to check for lead hazards.

Beginning in April 2010, federal law will require that contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, apartments, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. (NOTE FROM DR RENT, this will also apply to landlords doing work on their own properties!!!)

Until that time, the EPA recommends that anyone performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead based paint in these pre-1978 properties follow lead-safe work practices.

To do this, the contractor should follow these three simple procedures: Contain the work area; Minimize dust; and Clean up thoroughly.

Again… this is information straight off the EPA’s website and there is much more information available there including many pamphlets and brochures covering this issue. The April 2010 law will be a future radio show topic, however Wisconsin can trump that law by passing a more strict law, so until the details of the Wisconsin rules are finalized, simply complying with the new federal laws may not be enough to keep you legal.

Hopefully, you have found this information helpful.

About drrent

Wausau, Wisconsin Landlord, past president of the Wisconsin Apartment Association, Host of the Dr Rent Radio Show on WNRB-LP, 93.3 FM, Wausau, WI
This entry was posted in Lead Based Paint and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to All You Wanted to Know About Lead (part 2)

  1. nice and informative site. Good work.
    As you can see I have a blog of my own. I just love finding blogs like thiswhen I have the time.
    Thanks for sharing these helpful tips!

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