Testing For Lead Paint

Lead paint can negatively affect everyone in your family, and children are often at highest risk. Younger children will commonly put all sorts of things, like paint chips, in their mouths, exposing them to potentially deadly lead poisoning.

Even if your home's condition looks perfect, doing any repairs or renovations in the future can be a hazard since dust still contains lead and may be breathed in by your family.

If you know the house you want to buy was built before 1978, the year when paint containing lead was banned, there are five tips you should consider.

1. Know Where to Look for Lead
  • Walls and woodwork
  • Window Sills
  • Interior and exterior flaking paint
  • Furniture
  • Toys, particularly old play equipment
2. Know the Law
  • Sellers must disclose in writing any information about known lead paint in the home.
  • If sellers have performed lead tests, they must disclose the test results.
  • Sales contracts must give buyers up to 10 days to check for lead hazards. Homebuyers aren't required to test for lead, but they must be given the opportunity to do so.
  • Home sellers or real estate agents must give buyers a copy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publication, "Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home."
3. Test for Lead

In addition to getting the seller's disclosure information about lead-based paint, your real estate agent should ensure that the seller's inspector includes an assessment, as well as your own inspector.

Assessment will typically involve a range of methods, including: visual inspection of paint condition and location; lab tests of paint samples; and surface dust tests. You can also buy your own lead paint test kit on the Internet, Amazon for example, hardware stores or large variety stores like Target.

4. If You Find Lead

The EPA recently confirmed that old lead paint that is is well maintained does not present a hazard and is best left undisturbed. However, if the old lead paint is in poor condition like peeling, chipping, or cracking, it is considered a hazard.

Before you make an offer on the house, speak to your real estate about your options. Two such options may include:
  • Ask the sellers to hire a professional contractor trained in proper handling and removal of lead-based paint.
  • Present a lower offer on the home to cover costs of hiring your own contractor - and get the work done before you move in.
5. For More Information

For a copy of Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home, Reducing Lead Hazards When Remodeling Your Home, the sample disclosure forms, or the rule, call the National Lead Information Center (NLIC) at (800) 424 LEAD, or visit the NLIC's website at http://www.epa.gov/lead/index.html.