February 26, 2011

Frequent Lead Abatement Questions

Why should I have my home inspected or assessed for risks?

  • Your child has been diagnosed as having lead poisoning. The most common home-based source of lead exposure is deteriorating lead-based paint and the resulting dust.
  • You live in a home built before 1978 where small children are or will be living.
  • You are about to remodel or do anything that will disturb lead-based paint or generate lead-based paint dust and chips that can harm you and your family.
  • You are renting or buying a home. When buying a home, federal law allows the purchaser the opportunity to conduct testing to determine whether lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards are present. This is especially important if you have (or plan to have) young children in the home. Learn your rights before buying a home.
  • You are concerned about possible lead exposure to you, your family and pets, or visitors.

What is the difference between an inspection and risk assessment?

An inspection is a surface-by-surface investigation to determine whether there is lead-based paint in a home or child-occupied facility, and where it is located. Inspections can be legally performed only by certified inspectors or risk assessors. Lead-based paint inspections determine the presence of lead-based paint. It is particularly helpful in determining whether lead-based paint is present prior to purchasing, renting, or renovating a home, and identifying potential sources of lead exposure at any time.

A risk assessment is an on-site investigation to determine the presence, type, severity, and location of lead-based paint hazards (including lead hazards in paint, dust, and soil) and provides suggested ways to control them. Risk assessments can be legally performed only by certified risk assessors. Lead-based paint risk assessments are particularly helpful in determining sources of current exposure and in designing possible solutions.

You can also have a combined inspection and risk assessment.  With any of these options, the risk assessor or inspector will provide you with a written report of findings.

What do I do if they find lead-based paint in my home?

Lead exposure is serious business. To protect you and your family from lead hazards, a certified risk assessor can assist you in reviewing the report, and help you decide whether abatement (eliminating lead hazards completely) or continued good maintenance (managing potential lead hazards) is a better option for you. If you decide to abate, be sure to hire a trained and certified abatement contractor.  If you choose to manage your lead paint in place, you will need to regularly inspect and maintain your paint, and be sure to hire only lead-safe certified home contractors when you have any work done that will disturb lead-based paint.  A competent lead-based paint professional will be know how to work safely and will have proof of certification.

How do I know if my home should have an abatement?

Sometimes, a local agency will direct abatement in a home.  At other times, you may choose an abatement because you may feel that this is the best way to protect your children from lead exposure.  Or, you may feel more comfortable having your lead paint abated rather than committing to long-term regular maintenance.  Your risk assessor can help you decide among these options.

Homebuyers and Renters: Know Your Rights Before You Buy or Lease