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Hazards Posed by Lead Paint
lead paint hazard

Paint used before 1978 could contain lead. Generally, the older the paint, the higher the lead content. Lead paint in good condition is not usually a problem except in places where painted surfaces rub against each other and create dust, such as where windows open and close. Chipping, peeling or deteriorated lead paint is a common source of lead dust and is a hazard.

  • Deteriorated paint (peeling, chipping, flaking paint).
  • Paint is most likely to deteriorate on surfaces:

          Subject to rubbing or impact (doors, windows, trim, stairs, floors).

           Where moisture collects (walls, floors, or ceilings damaged by leaks).

  • Unsafe methods of remodeling, paint preparation and repair create and spread large amounts of lead dust and debris. 
  • School and child care maintenance staff that work on pre-1978 facilities may take lead dust home on their work clothes and expose their family to lead.

How can I check for lead hazards?

  • Find out when your school or child care facility was built. If the school or child care facility was built before 1978 assume it has lead paint unless the building or facility has been tested and found not to have lead paint.
  • Check for holes, peeling paint, paint chips or dust on floors, walls, windows, baseboards, ceiling and trim.
  • Check for flaking or peeling paint on any exterior surface, including buildings, porches, fences and playground equipment.
  • Check for abrasion and impact surfaces like painted doors, windows and steps to ensure that friction is not creating lead dust.
  • Check to see if all painted surfaces on outdoor buildings and playground equipment are in good repair.
  • Check to see that outdoor play areas are free of paint chips.
  • Test playground soil for lead.
  • Hire a risk assessor who will inspect painted surfaces and collect paint chips, dust and soil samples. A risk assessor will also identify and suggest ways to reduce lead paint hazards.
  • Have your drinking water tested.

More information on identifying lead hazards

Testing Your Home for Lead in Paint, Dust, and Soil (PDF). Provides information on testing your home or building.

Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools (PDF). General information about testing and lead-safe practices for working on pre-1978 homes and buildings. Also available in Spanish (PDF).