Protect Your Family from Lead Poisoning During Home Improvement Season

Home Ownership

Protect Your Family from Lead Poisoning During Home Improvement Season

protect your family from lead poisoningWith sunny weather upon us, you may be thinking about home improvement! As you consider projects, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency encourages homeowners and contractors to make lead safety part of the plan to keep families, pets and homes safe.

If your home was built before 1978, there is a good chance it has lead-based paint. In 1978, the federal government banned consumer uses of lead-containing paint. Projects that include carpentry, plumbing, electric work, painting or window replacement can require scraping or sanding old paint, which can release harmful lead-contaminated chips and dust. Lead from paint is one of the most common causes of lead poisoning. Lead paint was used in exterior and interior paints.

Lead exposure can be devastating, especially in growing children. It can cause a range of health issues, including behavioral disorders, learning disabilities and other serious problems, putting young children at great risk as their nervous systems are developing.

If your home was built before 1978, add these lead safety to-do items to your home improvement checklist:

  • Ask if your contractor is certified. Only hire contractors that are EPA or state-certified.
  • Keep pets away from lead renovation work. Lead tastes sweet, so pets are attracted to the taste of lead paint chips and dust. They can also track dust into the house with their paws and fur, exposing other family members.
  • Keep the family out of the work area. Your family may be at risk for lead poisoning by ingesting or inhaling lead paint chips and dust.
  • Always keep painted surfaces in good condition to avoid deterioration. Maintain the lead-based paint against chipping and peeling. Routinely wipe down the floors, window sills and other surfaces that may collect paint chips or dust.
  • Use doormats and remove shoes. Kids and pets spend a lot of time playing on the floor. Avoid tracking soil into the house because may contain lead. Remove shoes before entering so lead dust doesn’t settle on your floors and carpets.
  • Wash hands and toys. Washing children’s hands and toys can remove harmful lead before children are exposed.

If you’re a contractor or renovator who works on homes built before 1978, make sure you are lead-safe certified and trained in accordance with the 2008 Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule. The initial training takes just eight hours and the certification is good for five years. EPA has the authority to enforce the LRRP rule and issue fines if contractors are not in compliance.

If homeowners are conscious of lead safety precautions and hire contractors who are certified in lead-safe practices, we can keep kids, families, homes and workers safe from the harmful impacts of lead poisoning this home improvement season.

For more information, visit the EPA lead safety website at or call 1-800-424-LEAD.

About Hanady Kader

Hanady Kader is a communications professional in Seattle at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10. The EPA northwest regional office serves Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and 271 tribes.

Note: This is a guest post; the views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Redfin.

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