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Don't Let Lead Hurt You ... or the ones you love!

Act now to find out if your pre-1978 home or apartment has lead hazards. And, if you find lead, don't panic. Remember ... 
  • Lead paint isn't always dangerous. If it's under layers of newer, non-lead paint, you may not have a problem. Only when lead paint is disturbed - by rubbing, bumping, water damage, or during renovation - does it release tiny particles of lead dust that can harm you. 

  • The solution to a lead hazard problem isn't always expensive. There are ways to "manage" lead hazards. (In fact, removing lead, if it's done improperly, can create more problems than you had in the first place.)

  • The older the building, the more likely that it has lead ... 
    • 90% of pre-1940 buildings have lead. 
    • 80% of pre-1960 and, 
    • 62% of pre-1978 buildings have lead. 

  • If liability is your primary concern, select an evaluation method that follows the 1995 HUD Guidelines, the de facto standard. If you are subsequently involved in litigation, it's likely that your actions -- what you did and how you did it -- will be measured against these guidelines.

  • Always have lead evaluations performed by certified professionals.

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Comparing Various Testing Alternatives

Under the federal lead paint disclosure requirements, home buyers are given up to 10 days (or a different period, if they and the seller agree) to conduct a lead inspection and/or risk assessment. It is important that home buyers understand their rights and consider taking advantage of this opportunity. Buyers who decide to hire a lead service provider also need to decide whether to conduct a lead inspection and/or risk assessment. The difference between a lead inspection, lead risk assessment and a lead clearance test are explained below. Specific guidance should be obtained from a certified lead service professional.


A lead risk assessment identifies lead-based paint hazards which are conditions that can cause harmful exposures to lead, particularly for young children and pregnant women.

Risk assessors identify lead-based paint hazards by conducting a visual examination of the dwelling for signs of paint deterioration, analyzing deteriorated paint to determine if it is lead-based (e.g., sending paint chips to a laboratory for analysis or using an XRF analyzer on-site), and collecting dust and soil samples for laboratory analysis. A Risk Assessment Report identifies any lead-based paint hazards found, and provides options for controlling these hazards. (An estimated cost for a typical Risk Assessment of a 3BR/2BA home - following HUD Guidelines - is $450-$500.)

Risk assessments may be appropriate in the following situations:

  • Parents who are concerned about their child's lead exposure in their current home.

  • Owners, buyers, or renters who want to know if a home has lead hazards that would likely pose a risk to their family and if so, what control options are available.

  • Home sellers (lessors) who want to document the presence or absence of lead-based paint hazards in their property so as to reduce buyers' (renters') concerns about lead hazards.

  • Owners of multi-family properties who may need a risk assessment (or a risk assessor-developed Lead Hazard Control Plan) in order to qualify for insurance or financing, or to provide additional documentation for liability purposes.

  • When states or local governments require owners to conduct a risk assessment because a child living in the housing unit has an elevated blood lead level. (Public health department environmental investigations of children with elevated blood lead levels often involve more comprehensive evaluations than a standard risk assessment).

  • Property owners who want to understand the full range of hazard control options that can be used to address lead-based paint hazards.

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The second kind of evaluation is called a Lead Inspection. A lead inspection is designed to answer two questions: "Is there lead-based paint (LBP) present in the housing unit?" and "Where is the lead-based paint?" Surveying a housing unit for lead-based paint is typically performed using an X-Ray Fluorescence analyzer, called an XRF. Paint or other coatings with lead levels above an established threshold are considered lead-based. A Final LBP Inspection Report identifies all surfaces with lead-based paint but does not provide the consumer with information about the condition of the paint, the presence of lead contaminated dust or soil, or options for controlling any hazards found. (An estimated cost for a typical Lead Inspection of a 3BR/2BA home - following HUD Guidelines - is $350-$450.)

A lead paint inspection is most appropriate for property owners who need to know where lead-based paint is located, such as in the following situations:

  • People considering renovation, remodeling or demolition work that would disturb painted surfaces and may generate lead dust hazards unless proper precautions are followed.

  • Home sellers desiring specific information about lead for marketing purposes.

  • Home buyers or renters who want to know how much lead paint is present and its location (or who feel strongly that they want a home that contains no lead-based paint).

  • Rental property owners seeking exemption from the federal lead disclosure requirements by demonstrating that a specific property does not contain lead-based paint.

  • Rental property owners who might need or desire documentation about lead-based paint for insurance, financing, or other reasons.

  • Those facing a state or local requirement to abate all lead-based paint.

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Clearance Testing
Clearance Testing involves dust -- and perhaps soil -- samples taken by a Certified Risk Assessor after renovation or remodeling work to make sure the work area has been cleaned up properly. (While costs vary depending on the number of samples required, an estimated cost for a typical Clearance Test is $140-$180 including up to four samples.)

"Be Lead Aware!"
Cracked or broken shingles can lead to water damage which causes paint to deteriorate and become a lead hazard.
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