Because of health concerns, lead based paint was taken off the market in 1978. If your house was built after that, you should have no lead paint worries. But if your home is older, like the house in Cape Charles, Virginia, you'll have to take some precautions when rehabbing or scraping away layers of paint.
The most common places to find lead paint problems are around windows and doors. If the paint is chipping it could pose a health hazard, especially to young children who could ingest the paint chips. If the paint is not chipping and in good condition, it doesn't pose a threat, so, leave it alone. But repainting or remodeling can send lead dust airborne creating a dangerous situation.
Still, if you live in an older home, there's no need to panic over your paint:
- A reputable laboratory can test your paint to see if it contains lead. Check with housing authorities in your area for recommendations.
- Call in a "lead trained" contractor for removal if your paint tests positive and appears to be chipping or peeling.
- Investigate before you renovate. If you're not planning to strip the old paint you should at least know what type of paint you'll be covering up.
Painting over lead-based paint won't change its potential for being a health hazard. But it will minimize exposure.