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How Do You Know If Your Home Has Lead-Based Paint?

Updated on May 23, 2011

Does Your Home Contain Lead-Based Paint?

If you own an older home, it's very likely that your home contains lead paint. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, "about two thirds of all homes About two-thirds of the homes built before 1940 and one-half of the homes built from 1940 to 1960 contain heavily-leaded paint."

Nevertheless, it wasn't until 1978 that the CPSC lowered the legal content of lead in paint to a maximum of 0.06% (a trace amount). In order to ensure your safety, homes built before 1980 should be tested for lead paint before you decide to take on a home renovation project.

Dangers associated with lead paint:

Most people know that there are dangers associated with lead-based paint, but they may not realize the severity of the dangers it imposes.

  • Lead-based paint can retard mental and physical development and reduce attention span.
  • Lead-based paint can retard fetal development even at extremely low levels of lead.
  • Lead-based paint can cause irritability, poor muscle coordination, and nerve damage to the sense organs and nerves controlling the body.
  • Even small amounts of dust containing lead are dangerous to infants and children.

How to Test Your Home for lead-based paint:

Before you begin a home renovation project, act responsibly and ensure the safety of members in your household. Remember, it is not safe to use sanders, scrapers and heat guns on lead-based paint. The dust particles and vapors will contain lead and it will spread throughout your home.

In the United States:

  • Do-it-yourself kits are available for lead-based paint testing. Nevertheless, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has not evaluated any of these kits.
  • Hire a trained professional to come into your home. This professional will use X-ray fluorescence to test the presence of lead-based paint in your home.
  • Utilize a laboratory test and submit a paint sample for lead. This is considered the most reliable method. Lab tests may cost from $20 to $50 per sample.

In Canada:

  • Hire an independent contractor that's trained in testing the presence of lead-based paint. This professional will use X-ray fluorescence to test the presence of lead-based paint.
  • Send paint chips to a lab that specialized in identifying lead-based paint. Two roganizations that handle this in Canada are : The Standards Council of Canada; and The Canadian Association for Environmental Analytical Laboratories.

While testing for lead-based paint may seem like another expense that you wish to avoid, consider the long-term benefits. You will have a healthy home and peace of mind. The risk-factors are just too serious to ignore when it comes to home renovation projects that deal with the possibility of lead.


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      stilljeannie 5 years ago

      I am having a new front door put in. Man from Home Depot came today, said after scraping an inch on the door jamb, you have lead based paint, i have to remove it, cost $150.00 more, and $20 to get rid of the door. No florescent light, no test, just a scratch test. House was made about 1952, I am not going to use that man, of course. People, do you believe everything you hear.

    • Nicolas Simons profile image

      Nicolas Simons 6 years ago from San Francisco

      That's a serious issue. "About two-thirds of the homes built before 1940 and one-half of the homes built from 1940 to 1960 contain heavily-leaded paint" - these are scary statistics.

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      Ron Lovell 6 years ago

      Lead Based Paint is a real problem in Pre-1978 homes. We deal with it all the time. Keep up the good work on informing people about lead paint. Thanks

    • coltenk profile image

      coltenk 7 years ago from Bonney Lake, WA

      Nice hub! I just made one myself about lead based paint removal and the risks associated with it. Looking forward to reading more!