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If you live or work in a building that was constructed prior to 1978, chances are there may be lead in your paint or in the soil surrounding your building.

Lead is the number one environmental health problem facing our children today according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The CDC estimates that up to 10% of all children may have unacceptably high levels of lead in their blood. New research suggests that health threat exists even at very low exposures. While lead poisoning can cause permanent neurological damage and ongoing learning and behavioral problems, it is completely preventable.

The threat to our children from lead exposure is very real. Lead persists today in our soil, in the air and in our homes. Lead exposure crosses all social, economic and geographic lines. The most common source of lead poisoning is dust from deteriorating lead-based paint and unsafe renovations. Most homes built prior to 1978 contain at least some lead-based paint.

The key to preventing lead poisoning is knowledge: knowing what to do and what not to do. For example, deteriorating lead-based paint in or around a home is hazardous. However, removing it improperly can produce extremely high levels of hazardous lead dust.

Scraping PaintAlthough home test kits are available, they do not provide as much information and are not always accurate. These kits do not detect the concentration levels of lead in paint. For instance, a negative result may tell you that the paint is not “lead based paint” but it will not detect that it is “lead containing paint”, which is an important distinction and can make a difference in the remediation process.

Lead hazards can be found in the following materials:

Windows and window frames, doors and door frames, kitchen and bath cabinets, interior walls, baseboards, exterior siding, exterior window sills.

Before renovating your home or building you should assume that you have lead based paint or have an inspection performed by a lead certified inspector/assessor.

A good risk assessment includes some information on how serious the risks are and what you can do to reduce them. This involves taking samples of dust and/or soil and testing any paint that is in poor condition. After your renovation is completed it is strongly recommended that final testing be done to confirm that no lead hazards remain.

For more information:

   EPA: Lead - Basic Information
   EPA: Laws and Regulations
   Cal/OSHA: Safety & Health Fact Sheets

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