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Getting the Lead Out . . . of Your Home

Buildings constructed before 1978 have a reasonable chance of containing oil-based, alkyd lead paint, which is a health and environmental hazard. (Lead was banned from paint in the United States in 1978.) For a greener, healthier home, it pays to get the lead out.

Ingesting lead has been linked to brain and nervous system damage in children. Kids are most likely to eat or breathe in lead paint chips or dust if

  • The paint is flaking.

  • They chew painted surfaces such as windowsills (you know what children are like!).

  • They drink water that travels through lead pipes.

You can buy lead testing kits for both paint and water, and you can also ask your doctor to run blood tests on family members to ensure that lead levels aren’t elevated.

If you find any reason for concern, talk to a contractor who deals specifically with lead about your options:

  • Remove and replace the item. In the case of a painted door, this is fairly easy to do.

  • Seal lead paint and paint over it. Walls painted with lead-based paints are hard to remove without creating the danger of greater exposure to contaminated dust, so your best option may be to seal the lead in and repaint.

  • Remove the paint. You definitely need professional help with this potentially hazardous process.

Your local or state health agency can offer assistance in dealing with a lead-paint problem.

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