Concerns with Lead-Based Paint in Your Rental? Here’s What You Can Do

As with all things, we don’t usually know that something is bad for us, until years later.

That’s precisely what happened with lead-based paint when used in homes built before the late 1970’s. Lead was often combined with paint to make it durable, fresh-looking and fast-drying. But as a renter why should you worry about lead-based paint and what can you do about it?

In 1991, the secretary of the U.S. department of Housing and Urban Development labeled lead poisoning as the number one environmental threat to the health of adults and children and regulated against the use of lead-based paints in homes but many older homes still have this lead-based paint on window sills, pipes, frames and other products.

The Problem
Lead-based paints have lead, which is known as a source of poisoning for children and even for adults. Even low levels of lead can result in mental retardation, or a lack of physical development. Lead is also known to cause abnormal fetal development. These of course are major concerns. But the consequences are also minimized for you as a renter, especially if you take precautionary measures.

Sometimes when you rent a home you can have lead around your home and not even know it; especially because lead doesn´t have any type of taste or smell. In fact, a few older homes have even been found to have lead in the surrounding soil.

What can you do?

Older painted areas in homes can carry lead-based paint. So to prevent this from being a risk to small children you’ll want to take note of paint chipped areas. Keep children away from these areas and keep it as clean as possible.

The Statistics
About three fourths of all homes built before 1978 have some sort of lead-based paint, so when moving into a home, it’s a good idea to keep hands away from exterior painted surfaces, doors, windows and interior wood finishes. This lead is of even more note in homes built around the 1950s.

Checking your Rental for Lead Paint
When you rent an older home, one of the things you’ll want to check for is lead-based paint.

So the first thing you should do is determine the build age of the property. Ask the property manager for the age of the apartment building or home. If it was built before 1978, do a quick inspection to look for the age of paint. Check the exterior walls as well and ask the manager about the risks. You can also purchase a DIY lead-paint kit from a paint store or large home improvement store. This type of kit can tell you whether lead exists, however, it can’t distinguish between high and low levels of lead. So if the test results positive you may want to call in your property manager to see if he can have it tested by a professional lead inspector. Extremely Important for Households with

Immediate Solutions
When you rent an older home and are unsure of the paint used on surfaces, you can prevent issues that could affect your children by taking a few precautionary measures. Clean up paint chips immediately. Use duct tape to pick up any loose chips. Clean floors, window frames, sills and hard to reach surfaces weekly. Use warm water, a sponge and a good cleaning solution to clean these areas.

Reduce the Chances of Exposure
You can significantly reduce a child’s possible exposure by avoiding activities that can damage or disturb lead-based paint products. Avoid sanding or scraping these areas yourself, and instead call in the rental manager to have him inspect the area. The manager will have more experience in abating and remediating this type of paint.