United States
                  Environmental F'rotection
Prevention, Pesticides,
and Toxic Substances
November 1996
                   FACT  SHEET
  Identifying Lead  Hazards in Your Home

Over 80 percent of all housing built before 1978 contains some lead-based paint. Such paint is usually not a
hazard if maintained in good condition. In poor condition or on child-accessible lead-based paint surfaces,
it can create health hazards for building occupants, especially children.
These hazards can be in the form of paint chips, child-accessible (and therefore chewable) painted surfaces,
friction surfaces of windows and doors, lead contaminated dust, and lead contaminated residential soil.
EPA is developing regulatory standards for identifying lead hazards in residential paint, dust, and soil.
Presently, the Agency has released this fact sheet and related guidance for use by families and public
decision makers in identifying and prioritizing potential lead-based paint hazards. This fact sheet
summarizes EPA's key messages and recommendations to help the public better address lead hazards in and
around their homes. The full 25-page document is available, free of charge, through the National Lead
Information Center Clearinghouse at 1-800-424-LEAD (see For More Information).

Lead Hazards in Paint
Until 1978, when the U.S. Consumer
Product Safety Commission (CPSC) phased
out the sale and distribution of residential
paint containing lead, many homes were
treated with paint containing some amount
of lead. The Residential Lead-Based Paint
Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 defined lead-
based paint as containing 0.5 percent lead by
weight. In some cases,  lead from paint with
even lower concentrations can be toxic if

The mere presence of lead in paint,
however, may not constitute a hazard. In
fact, if in good condition (no flaking or
peeling), most intact lead-based paint
usually is not a hazard. To determine
whether a hazard exists, homeowners should
also consider the location and condition of
the paint.

Lead-based paint is usually not a hazard if
the paint:
• is in good condition,
• is not on an impact or friction surface
  (window or door), and
• is not on a surface children can mouth or

Under these circumstances, you can usually
reduce the exposure risk to your family by
making sure that paint remains in good
condition and free of dust.
             Paint IVTay Be a Hazard if:

 • The lead-based paint is deteriorated,
   regardless of the location. As the paint
   breaks down, it releases paint chips and
   lead dust that can contaminate the home
   and be easily ingested by young
   children through hand-to-mouth activity.

 • The lead-based paint is on friction or
   impact surfaces. Surfaces, like door
   frames or stair boards that receive
   frequent impact, can damage the paint
   and release lead. Similarly, the paint on
   friction surfaces like certain windows,
   stairs, and floor components can also
   break down during normal use and
   release lead.
 • The lead-based paint is on child-
   accessible surfaces. Be aware of lead-
   based paint on surfaces that are at child
   height and that may be chewed or
   mouthed by children (window sills,
   railings, and stair edges).
In cases where you identify a potential lead-
based paint hazard in your home, there are
many things you can do.
These include short term interim controls
(like placing rubber treads on stairs) ,as well
as more permanent abatement options (like
removing or permanently enclosing lead-
based painted surfaces).

Lead-Contaminated Dust	
Lead-contaminated interior dust is the most
direct source of a child's lead exposure,
acting as a pathway for lead from lead-based
paint, exterior soil, and dust carried home
from occupational exposure, etc.

Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is
dry scraped, dry sanded, or heated. Dust also
forms when painted surfaces bump or rub
together. Lead dust can also be tracked in
from contaminated soil outside.

To reduce interior dust lead levels and
exposure hazards, you can do the following:

• Take precautions when renovating or
  repairing areas with lead-based paint.
  Avoid dry scraping, dry sanding, and
  heating to remove lead-based paint.

• Regularly mop floors, window ledges, and
  accessible surfaces with a warm detergent

• Wash pacifiers and bottles if they fall on
  the floor; wash toys and stuffed animals

• Ensure that children wash their hands
  before meals, naps, and bedtime.

Even after cleaning house, however, be
aware that future hazards may occur if you
have not addressed the ongoing source of
lead dust in the home (deteriorating paint,
lead tracked in from outside soil, etc.).

        How Much Lead Makes a
 _ Dust Hazard?
 Until EPA completes work on regulatory
 standards for lead levels in dust, the
 Agency recommends the use of the
 following "clearance levels" (levels used
 to establish when a surface area is clean)
 for identifying dust hazards in key
 surfaces in the home. Use these levels in
 identifying lead-based paint hazards and
 sources of lead exposure and determining
 the need for control actions.

 • Uncarpeted floors: 100 Aig/ft2 (0.93
 • Interior window sills: 500 /ug/ft2 (465
 • Window wells: 800 ^g/ft2 (745 mg/m2)
 (/Kg/ft2= micrograms per square foot is a measure of
 the mass of lead per square foot of surface). These
 samples are usually analyzed by a lab and collected
 by an inspector using vacuum or dust wipes.
Lead-Contaminated Bare Soil
Lead-contaminated exterior bare soil is a
concern both as a direct source of exposure
through hand-to-mouth activity and as a
contributor to indoor dust lead levels when
tracked into a home. Common sources of
lead in residential soil include deteriorating
exterior lead-based paint from houses and
past use of leaded gasoline deposited onto the
soil surface. Industrial  sources such as
smelters, recycling facilities, and mining
activities can also cause soil contamination in
residential areas.

EPA has identified two criteria for
determining if hazardous levels of lead are
present in bare residential soil. These factors
  Land Use: Access or use by children.
  Areas that will be used frequently
  by children are of greater concern
  since any lead in the soil may be
  picked up by the children. For
  that reason, the acceptable levels
  of lead in child-frequented areas
  (like yards and playgrounds, etc.)
  are lower than in areas that are
  closed off to children.
• Soil lead concentration.
  The higher the concentration of lead in the
  bare soil, the greater the exposure risk.

Decision-makers should consider both soil
concentration and land-use plans when
determining what, if any, hazard control
program is necessary in a residential area.

Hazard control options for lead-contaminated
soil include both interim control measures
and soil abatement strategies. Interim
controls generally establish an exposure
barrier between bare soil and children (i.e.,
shrubs, grass, crushed stone, hardwood
mulch, or relocating play areas). Soil
abatement strategies either remove/replace
contaminated soil or establish permanent
barriers (e.g. cement paving, permanent
brick) between the soil and the residents.
 How Much Lead Makes a Soil Hazard?*

 Soil lead concentration below 400 parts per
 million (ppm):
 • If tests indicate that the lead concentration in
   the soil is below 400 ppm, site-specific
   action is usually not necessary.

 Soil lead concentrations of 400—5000 ppm:
 • If the area -will be used frequently by
   children, EPA recommends interim controls
   to reduce contact between children and
   contaminated soil for lead concentrations as
   low as 400 ppm.
                      (continued on next page)

 How Much Lead Makes a Soil Hazard?*
  If contact by children is less likely or
  infrequent, then interim controls should be
  instituted when soil lead levels are between
  2QQ£LppmjtQd_5iKHIppm. Site-specific
  action is usually not necessary below 2000

Soil lead concentration above 5000 ppm:
  When soil lead concentrations exceed 5000
  ppm in residential soil, EPA recommends
  that soil abatement measures be considered
  regardless of the potential contact by
*These recommendations are approximate and are not
intended to substitute for site-specific analysis.	
Can I Test For Lead?
Homeowners have many options for testing
their houses for lead-based paint and lead-
based paint hazards. The full guidance
document provides
protocols for testing of
paint for professionals
involved in inspection and
risk assessment. EPA
strongly recommends the
use of trained
professionals. For more
information on finding
qualified professionals in your area, contact
the National Lead Information Center (See
For More Information).
For More Information
For a copy of the Federal Register notice dated September 11, 1995, and entitled, "Guidance on
Identification of Lead-Based Paint Hazards," phone the National Lead Information Center (NLIC)
at 1-800-424-LEAD. For the hearing impaired, call TDD, 1-800-526-5456. You may also send
your request by fax to: 202-659-1192 or by Internet E-mail to: ehc@cais.com.

NLIC can also provide copies of other EPA lead documents, including a free booklet on
renovating areas with lead-based paint, entitled Reducing Lead Hazards When Remodeling Your

In addition, information specialists at the NLIC can provide help with specific questions on lead-
based paint and lead poisoning prevention.

The full guidance document and other important EPA publications are also available electronically
through the following sources:
• Gopher Access: gopher.epa.gov. 70/ll/Offices/PestPreventToxic/toxic/leadj)m

• World Wide Web: http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/lead

• Dial up: 919-558-0335
• FTP: ftp.epa.gov (to log in, type "anonymous" your password is your Internet address)