The growing awareness of lead poisoning resulted in the eventual ban of lead-based paint in 1978 when the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the sale and distribution of residential paint containing lead. Before the decline in use and eventual ban of lead-based paint, it was considered a high quality and durable paint.

The primary concern with having lead-based paint in the home is lead poisoning from inhaling lead dust, ingesting lead dust from placing hands or other objects covered with lead dust in the mouth or even ingesting lead paint chips. Lead paint produces a white, chalky film of lead dust over time and, like all paints, will peel and chip when not maintained. Friction on painted surfaces such as doors and windows can also produce lead dust.

Particularly at risk are young children under the age of six years. Their innate and indiscriminate habits of putting objects in their mouths make them most susceptible to ingesting lead dust or paint chips. Their proportionally smaller body mass allows dangerously high concentrations of lead to develop more easily with minimal exposure. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 10 percent of U.S. preschoolers suffer from high enough levels of lead in their blood to poison their systems. Also at risk from exposure to lead-based paint are pregnant women. Please note that some states or local authorities require some action if a child is found to have lead poisoning or is at risk of lead poisoning. Consult your state agency to see if state or local laws apply to you.

Lead poisoning can cause permanent damage to the brain and create reduced intelligence and behavioral problems. Lead also can damage other organs and can cause abnormal fetal development in pregnant women. People can get lead in their bodies by breathing or swallowing lead dust, or by eating soil or paint chips with lead in them.

The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 directs the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure people receive information needed to protect themselves from lead-based paint hazards. Most home buyers and renters must receive information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards when they buy or rent housing built before 1978. Some housing, such as efficiency apartments, dormitories, vacation rentals, adult housing and foreclosure sales are not covered.

Under the rule, sellers, landlords, and their agents will be responsible for providing information to buyers or renters before a sale or lease. Home buyers will have 10 days to conduct a lead-based paint inspection or risk assessment at their own expense. The rule gives the two parties flexibility to negotiate key terms of the evaluation. The new rule does not require any testing or removal of lead-based paint by sellers or landlords and does not invalidate leasing and sales contracts.

For a copy of the Environmental Protection Agency pamphlet, Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home, sample disclosure forms, or the rule itself, call the National Lead Information Clearinghouse (NLIC) at (800) 424-5323, or TDD (800) 526-5436 for the hearing impaired. You may also send your request by fax to (202) 659-1192 or by e-mail to ehc@nsc.org. The EPA Lead pamphlet and rule m
ay be accessed through the Internet

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