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American Homeowners Association



Get the Lead Out

First-time home buyers have enough on their minds without considering environmental hazards. Although lead paint isn't the first thing you ask about, it's the last thing you should ignore. Under federal law, home buyers are entitled to test for the presence of lead paint in homes built before 1978. Prior to buying an older home, be sure to ask the seller to disclose any know presence of lead-it's required by federal regulations. Lead is a highly hazardous contaminant that causes serious health effects in adults and developmental problems in children. Here's why you should be concerned:

FACT: Lead exposure can harm young children and babies even before they are born.

FACT: Even children that 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 with lead in them.

FACT: People have many options for reducing lead hazards.

FACT: Removing lead-based paint improperly can increase the danger to your family.

Did you know... Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint. The federal government banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978 while some states stopped its use even earlier. Lead-based paint that is in good condition is usually not a hazard. But peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking lead-based paint is a hazard and needs immediate attention. Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is dry scraped, dry 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 dust can reenter the air when people vacuum, sweep, or walk through it. Contaminated bare soil can also increase dust lead levels.

If lead is not detected early, children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from:

  • Damage to the brain and nervous system
  • Behavior and learning problems (such as hyperactivity)
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing Problems
  • Headaches

Lead is also harmful to adults. Adults can suffer from:

  • Difficulties during pregnancy
  • Other reproductive problems (in both men and women)
  • High blood pressure
  • Digestive problems
  • Nerve disorders
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Muscle and joint pain

For more information, call the National Lead Information Clearinghouse at 1-800-424-LEAD.