You’ve probably heard that lead paint can be a dangerous thing. And you’ve probably also heard that you should "check” or "test” the type of paint used on your home. But what do these things really mean, and what can you do about them?
If you live in a home built before 1978, chances are good that it does, in fact, have lead paint.
For many years, lead was added to paint to speed the drying process, increase durability, and protect painted surfaces from corrosion. However, in 1978, the United States government officially banned the use of lead paint from the inside and outside of all urban, rural, and suburban houses and apartments throughout the country. Because of this, housing built after 1978 is typically lead-free.
Though harmful to all people, lead paint is particularly dangerous to children, who oftentimes bite, lick, and touch various household objects—some of which may be either painted with lead paint or covered in the dust of chipped lead paint. If not detected early, high levels of lead in children’s bodies can lead to damage of the brain and nervous system, behavioral problems, lack of development, hearing issues, and headaches. In adults, lead paint can cause reproductive harm, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, problems with memory or focusing, and muscle and joint pain.
To assess whether or not you and your children are in danger of exposure to lead paint, it’s wise to take a few precautionary steps. First, simple blood tests for all members of your family—especially young children—can help detect high levels of lead. Consult your family doctor and your medical insurance company to determine the best way to receive this testing. Second, check your home for lead paint by hiring professionals to perform a paint inspection and risk assessment. Some people recommend purchasing home testing kits to perform this assessment themselves, but these kits aren’t always accurate. For thorough and effective analysis, consult the National Lead Information Center (NLIC) for a list of certified professionals in your area.
We've worked with labs such as NVL. These labs can provide you with the test kits and advice on proper collection of samples. Test results typically are returned via email within 48 hours. You can pay extra to rush the results to as little as 2 hours.