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Lead Paint Can Poison


Q: Where is lead paint found?


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A: Most homes built before 1978 have some lead paint. Homes built before 1960 have the most lead paint. Lead paint can be present on any painted surface, but it is most often found on windows, trim, doors, railings, columns, porches and outside walls. Surfaces that have been repainted may have layers of lead paint underneath. A lead inspection can tell you where lead paint is located.

Q: How does painting or remodeling create lead hazards?

A. Sanding, scraping or otherwise disturbing lead paint can release large amounts of toxic lead dust. This dust, which may not be visible, can settle on floors and other surfaces where it gets on children’s hands and into their mouths.

Q. What do I need to know about hiring a contractor?

A. Choose a contractor who knows how to work safely with lead paint. Ask these questions:

  • Has the contractor worked safely with lead paint before? Ask for references from at least three recent jobs involving homes built before 1978 and speak to each personally. Find out if the contractor was careful to avoid spreading lead dust and cleaned up thoroughly.

  • Has the contractor completed a training program in lead safety? Some community colleges and trade associations sponsor this training for contractors. If contractors advertise that they are certified lead abatement contractors, you can check their credentials by visiting the following Web site: .

  • Will the contractor test for lead dust at the end of the job? A lead dust test will show if hazards have been left behind.
Doing it yourself?

Use HUD’s simple checklist to protect your family from lead paint hazards:


1. Watch out for lead dust.

  • Wet down the paint before sanding or scraping, to control lead dust.

  • Seal off the work area by covering floors, doors, furniture, windows and vents with heavy plastic. If possible, remove furniture from the room. Keep children and pregnant women away from the work area.

  • Before leaving the work area, workers should clean or remove their shoes to avoid tracking lead dust around your home.


2. Use the right tools.

  • Avoid creating dust or paint chips. A power sander or grinder should have a hood to trap dust and a HEPA vacuum attachment. Do not use powerwashing or abrasive blasting on painted surfaces.

  • When removing old paint, do not use open flame torches or heat guns over 1100°F — high heat creates poisonous fumes. Never use paint strippers that contain methylene chloride.


3. Clean up carefully.

  • Roll up or fold plastic sheets to keep dust and chips from escaping.

  • Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to clean all floors and other surfaces where dust can settle.

  • Wash floors, walls and other surfaces with soap and water, and rinse with fresh water.

  • Dispose of debris, towels and wash cloths in heavy plastic bags. Never burn leaded debris.

  • Conduct a lead dust test at the end of the job. Contact an environmental lab for a sampling kit or hire an independent lead professional. Lead dust levels should be no more than 40 micrograms per square foot on floors. If levels are higher, clean the area again, then retest.


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Lead Paint Can Poison:  Created on February 16th, 2007.  Last Modified on December 20th, 2013


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About HUD

The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all Americans. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at and



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