Lead Safety

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Homeowners, Landlords, Renters, Contractors and Painters: Learn about Lead Paint Toxicity

The Westport Weston Health District urges homeowners, buyers and renters, landlords, home improvement contractors, remodelers and painters to learn about lead safe practices and their responsibilities to protect people, especially children, from lead poisoning.

Most homes, child care facilities and schools built before 1978 contain some lead-based paint. Disturbing this paint by sanding and scraping without proper precautions will generate lead dust, chips and fumes that are hazardous for human health. Lead is especially dangerous to children under six years of age. Lead can affect children’s brains and developing nervous systems, causing reduced IQ, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems. Lead is also harmful to adults, even at low levels. It can cause high blood pressure or hypertension, and pregnant women exposed to lead can transfer lead to their fetuses.

Lead gets into the body when it is swallowed or inhaled. Lead in dust is the most common way people are exposed to lead. People can also get lead in their bodies from lead in soil or paint chips. People, especially children, can swallow lead dust as they eat, play, and do other normal hand-to-mouth activities. People may also breathe in lead dust or fumes if they disturb lead-based paint.

Common home renovations and activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition create dust. Federal law requires that contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb painted surfaces in homes built before 1978, and child care facilities and schools built before 1978, that a child under six years of age visits regularly, to be certified and follow specific lead-safe work practices to prevent lead contamination. And before a contractor begins the work, they must give you the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pamphlet The Lead-Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right.

Are you planning to buy or rent home or apartment built before 1978? Federal law requires:

  • sellers to disclose known information on lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards before selling a house;
  • real estate sales contracts must include a specific warning statement about lead-based paint and buyers have up to 10 days to check for lead;
  • landlords must disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before leases take effect. Leases must include a specific warning statement about lead-based paint. Also, landlords must give prospective tenants of buildings built before 1978 the EPA’s pamphlet Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home.

Contractors who work on homes, schools, and childcare facilities built before 1978 must be certified in using lead-safe work practices. If you are a contractor, you can find certification course providers on the CT Department of Public Health’s website. http://www.ct.gov/dph/lib/dph/environmental_health/lead/pdf/lead_training_courses.pdf