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Lead Poisoning and Lead Paint

Question of the Week


Updated June 27, 2014

Question In lead poisoning questionnaires, they always list as risk factors for a child having lead poisoning as living or spending a lot of time in a home built before 1950 or if it was built before 1978 and is being remodeled. Why the differences? If I live in a home built before 1978 and it isn't being remodeled, are my kids at risk for lead poisoning?

Answer It depends. If your house was built after 1950 and you aren't remodeling it, then that wouldn't be a big risk factor.

While homes built before 1950 and between 1950 and 1978 might all have lead paint in them, it is more dangerous in the older home. That is because an older home is more likely to be deteriorating, creating paint chips and lead contaminated dust that can be ingested by younger children. And the lead concentration of the paint in homes built before 1950 is likely to be higher than in a newer old house.

Lead was banned from use in interior and exterior house paint in 1978.

Your child may still be at risk if your house was built between 1950 and 1978 though. When you remodel one of these homes, by adding on a new room, scraping off paint, or tearing down a wall, etc., you may disturb lead paint and it may put your child at risk for lead poisoning. So according to the American Academy of Pediatrics your child should be tested for lead poisoning "if they live in or regularly visit a house or child care facility built before 1978 that is being or has recently been renovated or remodeled (within the last 6 months)."

Your contractor or a qualified lead professional can help you keep your family safe when you are renovating your older home.

Keep in mind that children may also be at risk if they play in the soil around an older home that may become contaminated with exterior lead based paint. You can decrease this risk by not letting your child play in the dirt around your home and washing his hands right away if he does.

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