I live in an older home. Is my family at risk from lead-based paint?
In general, the older the home, the more likely lead paint was used on and in it. This is especially true for homes built prior to 1950, but lead-based paints were widely used up to the time they were banned for residential purposes in 1978. However, the presence of lead paint does not necessarily mean that it presents a hazard. To present a health threat, it must somehow enter the body. Paint that is well cared for generally does not pose a danger. However, even in well-maintained homes, friction and impact surfaces, such as door jambs or sliding widows, can create fine lead dust that can be inhaled or swallowed.
How can I tell if the lead is a hazard in my home?
The surest method is to use the services of a certified lead-based paint inspector or a risk assessor. An inspector can tell you if there is lead in the home; a risk assessor can tell you the extent of the hazard. Home test kits for lead are available, but may not always be accurate. Consumers should not rely on these kits to determine if lead is a hazard in their home. The home test kit can only tell you if lead is present on a surface. It cannot tell you how much lead there is, if there is a lead paint hazard, or what needs to be done to repair the hazard.
A list of labs that demonstrate the ability to accurately analyze paint chip, dust, or soil samples for lead is available at National Lead Laboratory Accreditation Program (NLLAP). Click here for more information on the National Lead Laboratory Accreditation Program (EXIT to EPA).
How can I safely remodel/renovate my home?
Handle with care. Once released into the environment, lead doesn't break down, and its dust can be invisible to the eye and still cause lead poisoning. Whether you are planning to do the work yourself, or are hiring a professional, it is important that you educate yourself about lead-safe remodeling techniques and the new Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP). If you are going to hire a professional painter or remodeler, ask the contractor before the work starts if he or she has a Construction Contractors Board Lead-Based Paint Renovation (LBPR) Contractor's license. To check on a contractor's license see the Construction Contractors Board Website.
Resources on remodeling for do-it-yourselfers:
What kind of lead-based paint inspection and abatement services are available in Oregon?
There are several types of services available. The Lead-Based Paint Program (LBPP) certifies lead based paint Inspectors, Risk Assessors, Supervisors, Project Managers, and Workers. If you are interested in hiring a certified lead-based paint professional to work on your home, please see the list of certified companies to identify contractors that work on individual residential properties. These professionals are trained in abatement, which means they can permanently remove lead hazards from a property.
What if I live in an older rental property?
When you rent a property built before 1978 the landlord is required to have you sign a standard Disclosure Form, as required under Federal law. The landlord is also required to give you a pamphlet entitled "Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home". According to the Federal law, the landlord is required to disclose to you any knowledge that he or she has of lead-based paint (LBP) in the house. If he/she has no knowledge of LBP, he/she is not required to conduct an inspection or determine if lead-based paint is present. The only obligation is to disclose current knowledge. Read our Property Owners, Managers and Realtors page for more on disclosure.
Lead-based paint is usually not a hazard if it is in good condition and is not on a window, door, or other area where the surfaces may rub together and create lead dust. Chipping, peeling, cracking or damaged paint is a hazard and needs attention. If you see chipping paint or other lead paint hazards, notify your landlord.
How can I learn more?
See our Educational Materials page for more information on working lead-safe and preventing lead poisoning.