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.
Both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recognize that there is no safe level of lead poisoning.
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 paint also has large societal impacts, including IQ points, increased instances of juvenile delinquency, and reduced earnings over the lifetime of a lead-poisoned child’s existence. Each dollar invested in lead paint hazard control results in a return of $17-$221 dollars in savings from reduced costs related to crime, delinquency, and special education.
The primary source of lead poisoning is lead-based paint and related lead dust. 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.
In addition, lead poisoning can come from a variety of other areas. These include lead in water, lead in ceramics and toys, and lead dust created by factories that can settle in soil. As a result, it is vital to check to ensure that lead does not exist as an environmental factor in your home. See the “Actions You Can Take” section below for more information on keeping your family safe from lead poisoning.
Actions You Can Take
What can you do to limit exposure?
- If you live in a home that was built before 1978, and don’t have a valid lead certificate, have your home tested for lead paint by a certified lead paint assessor.
- Have your children tested for lead exposure at 12 and 24 months.
- If you notice chipping or peeling paint in your home, be sure repair it 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
- Check if there is a GHHI Location in your area and contact an outcome broker to explore the resources where you live
- Contact GHHI to learn more about best practices to reduce lead exposure
- Visit partners for more information, including:
- Download resources on the issue, including:
Do you live in Maryland? Learn about GHHI’s Resident Education Services to learn what services may be available for lead case management.