Information About Lead Hazards

If your building was built before 1978, chances are the original paint contains lead. Find out about health hazards and what to do.

About Lead

Lead is a naturally occurring metal that was used in many products, before it was severely restricted in the late 1970s. Lead is harmful to the human body, with no known safe level. Small amounts of lead can build up in the body and cause lifelong learning and behavior problems. Build up of lead in the body is referred to as lead poisoning and is the most common environmental illness in California children.

If your home or apartment building was built before 1978, chances are that the old paint contains lead. You need to take special precautions if you are repairing or remodeling your home, because exposure to lead-based paint, lead dust, or paint chips is a health hazard.

What to Do About Lead

If a homeowner is concerned about lead in paint and soil, they may test for lead levels by hiring a California Dept of Public Health-certified inspector or by collecting samples and sending them to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accredited lab. For more information, and a list of EPA accredited labs in California, go to the California Dept of Public Health website.

In buildings built before 1978, prevent lead dust from forming by controlling moisture and immediately cleaning up any paint chips that form. When remodeling, wear a NIOSH-certified respirator and lay down plastic sheeting to catch any chips or dust. Keep children and pregnant women away from the work area.

Renovation Repair & Painting Rule

On April 22, 2008, the U.S. EPA issued a rule requiring the use of led-safe practices and other actions aimed at preventing lead poisoning. Under the rule, beginning in April 22, 2010, contractors, property managers, maintenance workers, painters, and other specialty trades performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and must follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. Information on becoming an EPA-certified renovator is available on the EPA’s website.

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