Lead in and around your home

Whether you are a homeowner or tenant you need to make sure you, your family (and pets!) are safe.

Whether you are planning to start major renovations, or whether you are just undertaking general redecoration work you must be aware of the potential hazards that may occur when you disturb any paintwork. 

If you don’t know the decorative history of your house you should investigate; remember that the older the property the higher the probability that there will be lead paint! 

If your house is less than 25 years old it is very unlikely to contain any lead paint. 

Remember also that contamination is not restricted to the interior of the home.  Contamination of soil from lead is also common.  This is easily trodden into the property but can also be a danger to children playing in bare soil and may contaminate any food grown in the contaminated garden. 


Is my house safe?

Lead paint becomes a hazard only when it is turned to dust or fume or paint chips which may be ingested or inhaled. If there are any visible paint chips or evidence of flaking from painted surfaces then you must consider this as potentially hazardous.


How to make my house safe?

If you have discovered lead in your home – Don’t panic! There are a number of options open to you, all of which in conjunction with careful preparation and simple precautions will allow you to address the hazard effectively and safely.  


What do you want to know?

How do I know if I have lead paint in my home?

If your home was built before 1960, then chances are that there may be lead paint, particularly if you see very thick coats of paint, with the original coat still be buried deep.  The next twenty years saw a reduction in leaded paint, so it is still possible to find it in these homes.  It is almost impossible to identify lead paint visually, so testing is the only way to be sure; this can be done with a chemical marker or taking a paint sample for laboratory analysis

Note that if there is lead paint in a building then there could be lead present in dust containing small chips of paint, caused by everyday wear and tear.  This can be tested with dust wipes, analysed in a laboratory. 

Which paints contain lead?

A lot of paints manufactured before 1960 had added lead for greater durability, improved drying and colouring.  Manufacturers mostly phased out adding lead by the 1980s, but some specialist paints still contain high lead levels, which would only be for certified professionals.  However even paints manufactured after 1980 may still have trace amounts of lead, that weren’t added, although these are not considered a hazard.  

It is almost impossible to identify lead paint visually, so testing is the only way to be sure; this can be done with a chemical test kit or by taking a paint sample for laboratory analysis.

How do I clear up after working?

> Wipe down surfaces with a damp cloth

> Take care when sweeping not to raise the dust 

> Use only a HEPA vacuum to hoover up any loose material

> Bag everything up and put in bin; if it’s a large volume consult on its disposal

> Wash hands thoroughly afterwards 

Looking to find out about lead health risks?

Lead is highly toxic and widespread in our environment. There is no safe level of lead!