Homes Built Before 1960
Although paint manufacturers lowered the amount of lead in paint during the 1950s, lead-based paint continued to be used on homes until it was banned in 1978. Any home built before that time and especially homes built before 1960 may contain high concentrations of lead-based paint.
Who's At Risk
Children less than six years old are at the greatest risk of lead poisoning because the developing brain and nervous systems are easily damaged by lead and hand-to-mouth activities put young children at greater risk of exposure. Young children also absorb and retain more lead than older children and adults. Pregnant women are also at risk.
Childhood lead exposure is widespread. Medical research shows that low-level lead exposure that does not cause noticeable illness may cause permanent brain damage, reduced intelligence, behavioral problems, lower academic achievement, and reduced physical growth. Nationwide, it is estimated that 9% of children under the age of six have elevated blood lead levels.
The primary source of lead exposure to children is deteriorating lead-based paint. In addition to paint on older buildings, soil around buildings and house dust may be contaminated with lead from paint. Children do not have to eat paint chips to become poisoned. Simply crawling or playing in lead-contaminated soil or dust may result in children ingesting or inhaling substantial amounts of lead. In some cases, lead exposure does result from mouthing or chewing on painted surfaces.