Last updated on January 11th, 2024 at 07:01 am

Quick Answer

  • Not all homes built before 1978 have lead paint, but it is more likely. Residential use of lead-based paint was banned in 1978.
  • In the United States, approximately 24 million homes built before 1978 contain some lead-based paint. (Source: EPA)
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 38 million housing units in the United States were built before 1978.

This isn’t just a cosmetic flaw or a vintage detail. It’s a potential health hazard lurking beneath chipped layers, a whisper that can harm young minds and bodies.

Though many homes harbor this history, finding lead paint isn’t a reason to panic. But it is a reason to act, carefully and deliberately.

This silent threat, banned in 1978, lingers in countless pre-war walls, sparking concerns about exposure and remediation. 

The EPA estimates that approximately 69 percent of homes built between 1940 and 1959 contain significant amounts of lead-based paint.

But why is it dangerous and how can you identify it in your home?

Let’s discuss the prevalence of lead paint in houses and whether all homes built before that year contain lead paint.

What actionable steps can you take to deal with lead paint if you discover it in your older house.

If you have a home with lead paint, you might want to consider selling it fast

What is Lead Paint

Lead paint is a type of paint that contains high levels of lead, a toxic metal. It was commonly used in residential buildings before its health hazards were fully understood.

Understanding what lead paint is and how it can affect your family’s health is crucial for homeowners, especially those with young children or pregnant women in the household.

The Origin and Use of 

Lead paint was widely used in homes in the United States until 1978 when the federal government banned its residential use.

It was popular due to its durability, ability to adhere to surfaces, and vibrant pigments.

Many older homes, particularly those built before 1978, still have layers of lead paint present on walls, window sills, doors, and other surfaces.

Health risks associated with

As discussed before, lead paint poses significant health risks, particularly to young children and pregnant women.

Lead Poisoning: Lead exposure can lead to lead poisoning, a serious condition that affects both physical and cognitive development, especially in young children.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that there is no safe level of lead exposure for children.

Even low levels of lead in the blood can cause irreversible damage to the nervous system, resulting in learning disabilities, decreased IQ, behavioral problems, and developmental delays.

Health Problems in Pregnant Women: Pregnant women should be especially cautious around lead-based paint as it can harm both the mother and the developing fetus.

Lead can pass through the placenta and affect the baby’s growth and development. Exposure to lead during pregnancy can lead to premature birth, low birth weight, and developmental issues in the child.

Lead Dust and Chip Ingestion: One of the primary ways individuals are exposed to lead is through ingestion of lead dust and paint chips.

Dust and small paint chips can accumulate on surfaces, especially on window sills, and can be easily ingested by young children who frequently put objects in their mouths.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lead-contaminated dust and lead paint chips are the most hazardous sources of lead exposure in homes.

Harmful Health Effects: The health effects of lead exposure extend beyond cognitive and developmental issues.

High levels of lead in the body can cause damage to the kidneys, liver, and other organs.

It can also lead to anemia, hypertension, and reproductive problems in adults.

Long-Term Implications: The effects of lead exposure can be long-lasting and have lifelong consequences.

Even if initial exposure levels are low, the accumulated effects of lead over time can pose a significant risk to health.

Sources of lead exposure in homes

Lead exposure in homes can occur through various sources, and it is important for homeowners to be aware of these potential dangers. 

Lead-based paint may still be present on walls, ceilings, windows, and trim in these older homes.

Over time, the paint can deteriorate, leading to the release of lead dust or paint chips, which can be harmful if ingested or inhaled, especially for young children and pregnant women.

Lead-contaminated dust: Lead dust can be generated from the deterioration of lead-based paint or from soil tracked indoors from the outside. It tends to settle on surfaces such as floors, windowsills, and counter tops. 

Plumbing and water supply: Homes built before the 1980s may have plumbing systems with lead pipes or soldering containing lead. When water flows through these pipes or comes into contact with the soldering, it can become contaminated with lead.

Other potential sources: Lead can also be found in various household items such as imported pottery, stained glass materials, traditional remedies, and spices. 

Additionally, certain hobbies involving crafting, stained glass making, or home renovation projects that disturb lead-based paint can contribute to lead exposure if proper safety precautions are not followed.

How to Identify Lead Paint in Your House

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires disclosure of lead-based paint hazards in pre-1978 homes during property sales or leases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lead exposure is estimated to contribute to approximately 600,000 cases of learning disabilities in children each year.

Homes built before 1978 have a higher likelihood of containing lead-based paint, which was widely used before it was banned for residential use.

One effective way is to conduct a lead paint test, using an inexpensive test kit available at hardware stores or by hiring a professional lead inspector.

However, visual inspection alone is not sufficient to confirm the presence of lead paint.

Testing can help pinpoint areas with lead-based paint, allowing for targeted remediation efforts to minimize the risk of exposure.

It’s important to check both interior and exterior surfaces, including walls, doors, windows, and trim.

Lead can also be found in various sources, including old lead paint, lead-based materials, and non-household products.

When dealing with surfaces that may have lead paint, such as during renovations, exercise caution as disturbing the paint can release hazardous lead dust into the air.

How to Deal with it in Older Homes

To address lead paint in older homes, hire a professional lead inspector or risk assessor for testing.

If lead paint is found, enlist a certified contractor to safely remove or encapsulate it.

When renovating, use containment barriers and proper protective gear.

Regularly clean and maintain lead-based painted surfaces.  Use doormats at all entry points to prevent tracking in soil or dust from outside.

Who is responsible for testing and removing 

In most cases, homeowners or landlords are responsible for ensuring a safe living environment free from lead hazards.

This includes conducting inspections, testing for lead paint, and taking appropriate action if lead is found.

However, in some instances, local regulations or state laws may dictate additional responsibilities for property owners or even require specific certifications for lead paint removal.

Owners should familiarize themselves with the applicable regulations in your area and seek professional assistance when needed.

Steps to remove it

  • Take necessary precautions: Protect yourself by wearing gloves, respiratory mask, and disposable coveralls to minimize exposure to lead dust. Seal off the area where you will be working to prevent the spread of dust to other parts of your home.
  • Wet the surfaces: To reduce the risk of lead dust becoming airborne, wet the painted surfaces with a spray bottle filled with water before scraping or sanding. This will help contain the dust and prevent it from spreading further.
  • Use proper tools: Only use tools specifically designed for lead paint removal, such as a HEPA vacuum, plastic sheeting, and putty knives. Avoid using power sanders or heat guns, as they can create lead dust and pose a greater risk of exposure.
  • Remove paint carefully: Slowly and methodically scrape off the lead paint using a putty knife. Collect any debris in a plastic bag or drop cloth to minimize contamination.
  • Dispose of waste properly: Dispose of the waste material, including paint chips and dust, in accordance with local regulations.

What should I do if I find lead paint in my house

  • Limit access to the area with lead paint, especially for children and pregnant women, as they are particularly vulnerable to the health risks associated with lead exposure.
  • Contact a professional lead abatement contractor to assess the situation and safely remove or encapsulate the lead paint. Avoid any DIY attempts at lead paint removal, as this can often lead to further contamination and health risks.
  • Consult with a healthcare professional to get your family members tested for lead levels and talk about necessary precautions or treatments.

Can you Paint over it

You can paint over it, but you probably shouldn’t as it still can be an issue. 

It won’t solve potential health problems

Cost to remove it from a home

The cost to remove lead paint from a home can range from $1,445 to $20,000 or more, depending on various factors such as the size of the home, the extent of the lead paint, and the location.
The average cost of lead paint removal is around $3,428 nationally for a 2,000-square-foot residence, but the cost can be higher or lower.
For example, one source states that the low-end cost estimate for lead paint removal is $9,500, while the high-end cost estimate can be as much as $20,000 or more.
Another source states that the average cost of lead paint removal for a 2,000-square-foot residence is $15,000.
It’s important to note that lead paint removal is a specialized process that requires trained professionals, and the cost can vary significantly depending on the specific situation (sources: [Bob Vila], [HomeAdvisor], [Pro Paint Corner], [GoodRx], and [Angi].

Final Thoughts

Understand the risks associated with lead paint and take appropriate action if you own or live older home.

Lead paint can pose serious health hazards, especially to children and pregnant women. Identifying lead paint in your home for your safety and the safety of your family. 

Some states require an addendum to be signed if the house is built before 1978.

Get an offer fast from cash house buyers in DFW.

If you suspect that your home contains lead paint, it is important to consult with a professional to safely remove or encapsulate the paint.

Don’t take any chances when it comes to lead paint – protect yourself and your loved ones.