HOW DO YOU KNOW IF THERE IS LEAD AROUND YOUR HOME?
Much depends on the age, location, and condition of your home. If you answer yes to any of the following four questions, consider having an expert test your home or yard for lead.
- Do you live near a freeway or a lead-heavy industry such as battery recycling or lead smelting?
- Was your house built before 1980? (Approximately 83 percent of homes and 86 percent of public housing built before 1980 contain some lead-based paint.)
- Does your plumbing include lead pipes or copper pipes that have been joined with lead solder?
- Does your home have paint that’s chipping or flaking? (Even if the paint contains lead, it isn’t too worrisome if it’s in good condition and not rubbed, chewed, or bumped.)
If you decide to test your house, yard, or water for lead, have a professional do the job. Although do-it-yourself home lead-testing kits are available, studies have shown that these kits are not always accurate. Your state or local health department may perform lead testing, possibly for free. At the very least, they’ll be able to refer you to a qualified professional.
To find state-specific information or to identify resources in your area, contact the National Lead Information Center (NLIC) at (800) 424-5323 (424-LEAD) or visit the NLIC website.
If you’re going to buy or rent a home built before 1978, federal law requires that you receive a Residential Lead-Based Disclosure Program form. On this form, landlords and sellers have to disclose known information about lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards.
Beginning in April 2010, the federal government requires that contractors who perform renovation, repair, or painting that will disturb lead-based paint in homes, childcare facilities, and schools built before 1978 be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.
If you’re concerned about the possibility of lead in your water, call the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791. To test for lead in dishes, glasses, or pottery, call the FDA at (800) 332-4010.
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