Lead-based paint is a major concern for homeowners, with good reason. Lead poisoning can cause children to develop a wide range of symptoms—from irritability to muscle weakness. This isn’t necessarily a reason to panic, however, since lead-based paint in homes in the Bay Area doesn’t cause problems as long as the paint isn’t deteriorating. It’s still a good idea to schedule testing and, if necessary, professional removal of lead-based paint for the following reasons.
You have an older home.
Lead paint was banned in the U.S. in 1978. If your home was constructed before this time, there’s a good chance it has lead-based paint. The older your home is, the greater the chance of it having this paint. However, you should know that even if your home was built after 1978, it’s still possible for it to feature this paint. This is because the official ban on lead in paint didn’t require homeowners to turn over the gallons of lead paint they might have already had. It’s possible that the prior owners used this paint, rather than disposing of it safely.
You have children or are expecting to grow your family.
Children are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, as long-term exposure can cause anemia, behavioral problems, and even developmental problems of the brain. According to KidsHealth, every year, about 310,000 kids in the U.S. between the ages of one and five are found to have unsafe levels of lead . If you already have kids and your home is at an increased risk of having lead paint, you should get it tested. Couples should also schedule lead testing if they’re expecting a child, trying to start a family, or working through the adoption process.
Your home is near a heavily traveled roadway.
Even if your home definitely doesn’t have lead-based paint, it’s still possible for there to be high levels of lead in the soil around your home. If you live near a busy highway, it’s possible for leaded gasoline and its exhaust fumes to have contaminated the soil. Water runoff from the highway can carry the lead to areas away from the highway, like residential areas. Leaded gasoline hasn’t been used in the U.S. since 1996, but the residual contamination can remain in some areas.