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Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint, and 3.8 million homes in the United States have peeling or chipping lead-based paint or high levels of lead in dust.


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Lead is a toxic metal used in a variety of products and materials. When lead is absorbed into the body, it can cause damage to the central nervous system and vital organs like the brain, kidneys, nerves and blood cells. Symptoms of lead poisoning include headaches, stomachaches, nausea, tiredness and irritability, which may also occur with the flu and some viruses. Lead can also harm children without causing obvious symptoms.


Both inside and outside the home, old, deteriorated lead-containing paint releases lead, which mixes with dust and soil. Children who ingest lead or lead dust by putting their hands or other objects in their mouths, by eating paint chips or by playing in lead-contaminated soil may become poisoned.


What can you do?


Additional Resources

U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control (OHHLHC)
(202) 755-1785 x104

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC)
(800) 638-8270

Community Environmental Health Resource Center (CEHRC)

Alliance for Healthy Homes
(202) 543-1147

National Center for Healthy Housing

Parents Against Lead (PAL)
(773) 324-7824



1. In your home, if it was built before 1978:


a. Have it checked for lead hazards by a professional (including the soil).

b. Mop smooth floors (using a damp mop) frequently to control dust.

c. Vacuum carpets and upholstery to remove dust, preferably using a vacuum with a HEPA filter or a “higher efficiency” collection bag.

d. Take off shoes when entering the house.

e. Pick up loose paint chips carefully then HEPA vacuum.

f. Take precautions to avoid creating lead dust when remodeling, renovating, or maintaining your home.


2. For your child:


  • Frequently wash your child’s hands and toys to reduce exposure.

  • Use cold tap water for drinking and cooking.

  • Avoid using home remedies (such as arzacon, greta or pay-loo-ah) and cosmetics (such as kohl or alkohl) that contain lead.

  • Have your child’s blood lead level tested at age one and two. Children from three to six years of age should have their blood tested, if they have not been tested before and:

    i. They live in or regularly visit a house built before 1950;

    ii. They live in or regularly visit a home built before 1978 with on-going or recent renovations or remodeling; or

    iii. They have a sibling or playmate who has or did have lead poisoning.
For More Information

Visit HUD’s website at for more information about addressing health hazards in homes or to learn if HUD has a Healthy Homes program in your community. From this Web site, you can download a copy of “Help Yourself to A Healthy Home” for more practical steps you can take to make your home a healthy home.



HHI Error Correction Policy

HHI is committed to accuracy of content and correcting information that is incomplete or inaccurate. With our broad scope of coverage of healthful indoor environments, and desire to rapidly publish info to benefit the community, mistakes are inevitable. HHI has established an error correction policy to welcome corrections or enhancements to our information. Please help us improve the quality of our content by contacting with corrections or suggestions for improvement. Each contact will receive a respectful reply.

The Healthy House Institute (HHI), a for-profit educational LLC, provides the information on as a free service to the public. The intent is to disseminate accurate, verified and science-based information on creating healthy home environments.


While an effort is made to ensure the quality of the content and credibility of sources listed on this site, HHI provides no warranty - expressed or implied - and assumes no legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, product or process disclosed on or in conjunction with the site. The views and opinions of the authors or originators expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of HHI: its principals, executives, Board members, advisors or affiliates.

Quick Lead Basics:  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



Information provided by The Healthy House Institute is designed to support, not to replace the relationship between patient/physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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