About Lead

If your house or apartment was built before 1978, there is a high likelihood that it contains lead paint. Lead-based paint, even if hidden under layers of newer lead-free paint, can break down because of age, poor maintenance or household repairs and create environmental home health hazards. Lead poisoning is a preventable disease.

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eliminated the term “level of concern” when referring to childhood blood lead levels following the long-held understanding that there is no safe level of lead for a child.


The Facts

Lead poisoning affects an estimated 535,000 children younger than 6 annually in the United States. Lead is a home health hazard that can harm your child’s brain, causing lifelong learning and behavior problems. The symptoms of lead poisoning are not easy to detect, but its effects are long-lasting.

Lead dust in the home is caused by chipping, peeling, flaking or deteriorating lead-based paint and can exist in even the cleanest of homes. When lead dust is ingested or inhaled, even in minuscule amounts, it can cause significant and irreversible brain damage as well as other health problems. A lead dust equivalent of only three granules of sugar can poison a child.

The Risks

  • Children who are lead poisoned are 7 times more likely to drop out of school and 6 times more likely to become involved in the juvenile justice system.
  • Learning disabilities that can affect children who have been lead poisoned include: violent, aggressive behavior; speech delays; Attention Deficit Disorder; hyperactivity; diminished IQ; hearing and memory problems; and reduced motor control and balance.
  • Lead poisoning effects on adults include: 46 percent increased rate of early mortality; 16 to 19 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease; hypertension; depression; reproductive problems; and complications related to osteoporosis.

Steps you can take

What can you do to limit exposure?

  • Repair chipping and peeling paint using lead safe work practices and certified workers
  • Use proper containment
  • Work wet to control lead dust and paint chips during removal
  • Keep occupants out of the work area
  • Clean up properly

To learn more about steps you can take to limit exposure, download the EPA's Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home

EPA Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule: Who Must Comply?

Any contractor who:

  • Performs work for compensation in a pre-1978 constructed residence or child occupied facility
  • Disturbs painted surfaces

What Must Contractors Do to Comply with the EPA RRP Rule?

  • Distribution of Renovate Right booklet
  • Pre-intervention inspection and testing
  • Use of certified and trained workers
  • Use lead safe work practices
  • Post-intervention inspection

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end lead poisoning in five years

We can do it together. Read the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative's Strategic Plan to End Childhood Lead Poisoning as a major public health threat within five years. 

Strategic Plan to End Childhood Lead Poisoning