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Where mighht lead paint be found in buildings? This article outlines where lead paint was commonly found on building interiors and on building exteriors.
These visual clues help warn off building owners or contractors who are about to renovate an older building, or who want to know which surfaces are most at risk and most need to be examined or tested for lead. Actual testing to confirm the presence or absence of lead paint is recommended for older homes. This website provides advice for reducing the risk of lead poisoning for families living in homes
where lead exposure is suspected, likely, or where lead contamination is actually confirmed by testing.
When and Where is Lead Based Paint Found in buildings?
Our page top photo of an older wood-sided building with peeling paint also shows how soil around a building may have been lead-contaminated even if the lead-based paint coated siding has since been replaced, re-painted, or covered with a newer material.
The original U.S. CPSC document is public domain. We have made additions to the technical depth of this article and we have added additional important detail about lead hazards
- these are indicated by a [bracketed note in italics]. The additional text or commentary, website design, links, and references are independent material.
In general, the older your home, the more likely it has lead-based paint. Our photo at left shows a building originally constructed in 1759, and which has undergone generations of paint application, coat on top of paint coat.
Our opinion is that there is no reason to test this building for the presence of lead paint - it's a reasonable assumption that lead based paints are present on most painted surfaces in this case.
Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint. In 1978, the federal government banned lead-based paint from housing. Lead can be found:
In homes in the city, country, or suburbs.
In apartments, single-family homes, and both private and public housing.
Inside and outside of the house.
In soil around a home. (Soil can pick up lead from exterior paint, or other sources such as past use of leaded gas in cars.)
OPINION-DF: We have a special concern for both the hazards to house painters who often do not take precautions to protect themselves,
and for homes that are re-painted without following good housekeeping and lead dust or lead paint chip control.
We recommend insisting that
your painter wear appropriate protection while working on your home and that drop cloths be used to collect sanding and paint chips
containing lead dust when the home is being prepared for re-painting. If this debris is left on the soil it may form a soil-lead
contamination hazard to children later playing in the area close to the building.
Where is Lead Paint Most Likely to be a Hazard in buildings?
Lead from paint chips, which you can see, and lead dust, which you can't always see, can both be serious hazards.
Lead-based paint that is in good condition is usually not a hazard. [DF-note: see comments at my other lead articles cited below, about lead painted window sash dust and toddler lead ingestion]
Peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking lead-based paint is a hazard and needs immediate attention.
Lead-based paint may also be a hazard when found on surfaces that children can chew or that get a lot of wear-and-tear. These areas include:
Windows and window sills, particularly sliding double-hung or single hung window sashes that move a painted window frame up and down in a track.
Doors, door jambs and door frames.
Stairs, railings, and banisters that have been painted.
Porches and fences that are painted, and painted gates and gate handles
OPINION-DF: soils around older buildings that were probably painted with lead-based paint even if the siding was subsequently stripped, replaced, or sided-over. .
Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is dry scraped, dry sanded, or heated. Dust also forms when painted surfaces bump or rub together. Lead chips and dust can get on surfaces and objects that people touch. Settled lead dust can reenter the air when people vacuum, sweep, or walk through it.
Lead in soil can be a hazard when children play in bare soil or when people bring soil into the house on their shoes. Call your state agency (see below) to find out about soil testing for lead.
Also see LEAD ENVIRO-SCAREwhere we discuss both rational and irrational consumer fears around environmental topics and the impact of environmental contaminants or fears on home resale.
Continue reading at LEAD HAZARDS in REMODELING or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
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"The voluntary standard established in the United States under ASTM F-963 and the European standard under EN-71 for soluble lead in toys (lead which may migrate from the toy and be ingested by the child) is 90 parts-per-million. At that level, any intentional use of lead in paints or other surface coatings containing lead would immediately put the toy over the permitted limit."
"Under federal law, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) enforces a standard for total lead of 600 ppm. Recently, the CPSC refused to lower the lead limit in paint and other similar surface coating materials to 100 ppm after finding that most paints sold in the United States were already at or below that level and, therefore, these materials did not present an unreasonable risk of injury warranting further government regulation."
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
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The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
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