Since you have an older house, it’s extremely important to check your home for lead-based paint, especially if you have children. Lead-based paint is dangerous if ingested, and has been linked to nervous system damage in children, learning disabilities and slow growth. In adults, lead poisoning can cause irritability, nerve damage and a low sperm count.
Need a hand? Should you encounter a problem and would like to hire a professional, check Angie's List.
If your home was built prior to 1978, there's a likelihood that at least some of the paint on your walls and/or trim contains lead. Take the time to inspect the condition of the paint in your home.
Lead-based paint is usually not a hazard if it is in good condition and isn't on an impact or friction surface like a window or door jamb. Deteriorating lead-based paint (peeling, chipping, chalking, cracking or damaged) is a hazard and needs immediate attention. Pay special attention to surfaces that children can chew on or that get a lot of wear-and-tear, such as windows and window sills, doors and door frames, stairs, railings, banisters, and porches.
If you think you have a problem, then immediately adopt the following practices:
1. Clean the areas of concern at least weekly with all-purpose cleaner. Don't forget to thoroughly wash the mops or sponges after use.
2. Keep everyone's hands washed and clean. Lead can be easily ingested by children who put their hands/fingers in their mouths.
3. Watch your children and make sure that they aren't chewing on window sills, stair rails, etc.
Test the paint in the problem areas using either a testing kit (available at most home improvement stores) or by hiring a certified professional.
Interim control of the problem. Address the area(s) of concern by repairing and painting over them.
Permanent solution. Hire a certified expert to remove the lead-based paint completely.