The Hazards of Lead

Why Is Lead Paint Hazardous ?
1937 Dutch Boy Lead Paint Ad (click for full view)
1937 Dutch Boy Paint Ad (click for full view)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned lead as a paint additive in 1978.  For the preceding 100 years, lead had been used as a preservative and quick-drying ingredient.  Lead was also used in ceramics, pipes, copper plumbing solder, gasoline, batteries, and cosmetics.  Inhalation and ingestion of lead from paint is one of the most common causes of lead poisoning (e.g., flaking chips, sanding dust, backyard soil).  Children are especially susceptible to the toxic effects of small amounts of lead because their bodies absorb it more easily than adults.   Lead paint has a “sweet” taste to toddlers and can cause nervous system damage, stunted growth, kidney damage, and delayed development.

What Precautions Are Required For Contractors and Owners ?

EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule) requires that firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes and other buildings built before 1978 be certified for lead-safe work practices.  In California, licensed contractors are certified by the EPA (remodeling or demolishing more than six square feet indoor or 20 square feet outdoor).  Contractors can be fined up to $37,500 per day for not complying with federal regulations.  Most County Environmental Health Departments offer free in-home consultation services for lead paint hazards and free testing for children under 7 years old.

Check the Links below and your local Environmental Health Department’s website for additional information.


Building in California

Environmental Protection Agency

California State Contractors License Board

California Department of Public Health