Lead-based paint is the leading cause of lead poisoning in the US, which is why in 1978 the federal government banned consumer uses of lead-based containing paint. If your home was built prior to 1978 there is a good chance that it has lead-based paint.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 24% of homes built between 1960 and 1977 contain lead-based paint, 69% of homes built between 1940 and 1959, and approximately 87% of homes built before 1940.
Lead can be found in more areas than just paint. It can be found in dust, water, water pipes, soil, pottery, computers, cosmetics, and even older children’s toys. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but just a few examples.
So, what’s the danger with Lead? Lead can build up in the body, and poses a particular risk to the physical and mental development of children, but can also be fatal at high levels to everyone. Symptomatically it may present itself differently in babies, children, and adults. In children, it can cause difficulties in learning, irritability, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, developmental delays, vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation, hearing loss, seizures, and more. Babies exposed to lead before birth might be born prematurely, have lower birth weights, and experience slowed growth. And, although children and babies are at particular risk to lead poisoning, adults may experience high blood pressure, joint and muscle pain, memory loss, difficulties concentrating, headaches, abdominal pain, mood disorders, and more.
There are many ways to prevent lead exposure, and while I could list them here, this is simply an introduction to Lead-based paint and the potential risks involved. For more information on lead, remediation, and prevention of poisoning I highly recommend reading the following articles: