Frequent Questions

How can I tell if my home contains lead-based paint?

Question (23002-16836)

How can I tell if my home contains lead-based paint?

Answer 

The older your home, the more likely it contains lead-based paint. For example, 87% of homes built before 1940 have some lead-based paint, while 24% of homes built between 1960 and 1978 have some lead-based paint. Lead-based paint may be present in private single-family homes or apartments, government-assisted, or public housing, and in urban, suburban, or rural settings.  If you want to know whether or not your home contains lead-based paint, EPA recommends one of the following: 

  • Assume your home contains lead-based paint and take the appropriate precautions. In pre-1978 homes and buildings, this is the simplest and safest approach.
  • Hire a certified professional to check for lead-based paint. A certified lead-based paint inspector or risk assessor can conduct an inspection to determine whether your home or a portion of your home has lead-based paint and where it is located. This will tell you the areas in your home where lead-safe work practices should be used for renovation, repair, or painting jobs. A certified risk assessor can conduct a risk assessment telling you whether your home currently has any lead hazards from lead in paint, dust, or soil. The risk assessor can also tell you what actions to take to address any hazards. For help finding a certified risk assessor or inspector, call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).

A number of lead test kits are available for consumer purchase in most retail hardware stores, however, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states that consumers should exercise caution when using these lead test kits to evaluate consumer products for potential lead exposures.  See https://www.cpsc.gov/content/cpsc-staff-study-home-lead-test-kits-unreliable.

To test for lead-based paint in your home, EPA recommends that you hire a certified inspector or risk assessor.  For determining whether lead-based paint is present in pre-1978 housing and childcare facilities that are subject to renovation, repair and painting regulations, EPA has recognized three lead test kits, but recognition only applies to use by Lead-Safe Certified renovators.

You may also choose to contact a laboratory recognized under EPA’s National Lead Laboratory Accreditation Program (NLLAP) for lead paint chip, dust or soil sample analysis. A list of available NLLAP laboratories, including their recognized sample type(s), is available at https://www.epa.gov/lead/national-lead-laboratory-accreditation-program-list.

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