Do all homes built before 1978 have lead paint?

While it may be refreshing to know that not all homes built before 1978 have lead paint, a lot of them still do. In fact, there are millions of homes in the US that were built before 1978 that still have lead in the paint.

Should you be concerned about whether or not your home has this old type of paint? Those are some of the things that we’ll be covering in this article, to try and give you a better understanding of the situation.

We’ll also be covering other lead related things that you ought to know, especially if you are in the process of renovating your home, but also if you’re just a curious visitor of the site.

We’re not going to lie to you, even if our business is to sell lead test kits, which we do mainly to contractors. However, it is also important for homeowners to have the necessary information on this topic, which will be our first talking point in this article – giving you a better understanding of who this article is for.

If you’re mainly selling test kits to contractors, why are you writing an article that will likely be seen by homeowners instead?

We’re well aware of the fact that our website is mainly built with the intention of helping contractors get the supplies that they need when it comes to testing old homes for lead paint. Homes which they are doing compensated work on, why these pros are required to abide by the RRP regulations on the topic.

More specifically, these RRP regulations were initially instituted in 2008 to provide requirements on documentation related to testing for the dangerous material when someone is doing compensated work on an old home.

The reason why we’re still writing a bunch of articles that are focused more on homeowners is because we know how crucial it is to educate homeowners on the topic. We also often link out to supporting articles like the one from EPA on the topic, where you can go and fact check the number of homes containing lead.

One of the reasons why we originally started working on this project, was because we spoke to a bunch of homeowners, many of whom who had work done on a home that was built at a time where it would now be required to be tested if any work is done on it, but what we came to find out was shocking. Contractors would take immense measures to circumvent the various rules, just so that they could avoid testing. The implications of not doing the testing are many, both for you financially but also for you and your family’s health.

Something that we unfortunately came to find was often overlooked, and that is a thing we’re hoping to address by better educating homeowners too, especially ones living in or considering buying an old home. Staying educated on the topic not just means that you’re aware of what needs to be done when you’re doing home improvement, but also how you’re ensuring that you get the most value out of a remodel.

We have various resources also on the topic of painters getting the necessary licenses to be able to practice in the state that they live in, but a lot of the negligence because homeowners may either not be aware of the requirements, or simply don’t care.

If you’ve been doing remodeling on a home and you’re looking to sell it in the future, there’s a much bigger risk that the offer that you will get from a potential buyer ends up being contingent if you don’t have the proper documentation in order regarding RRP compliance needed upgrades. With those contingencies, you’re not just ending up in a process that’s likely to be more extensive than you would have otherwise imagined the whole selling process would be, but often so, what happens is that the buyer will put in a generous offer that is contingent on a bunch of things, and since real estate agents know that most of these homes will have issues with lead paint given the natural deterioration over the course of more than 40 years, the inspector will come in and point it out. Great, you now have a situation where the offer is no longer valid, and the counter offer that goes on the table looks a lot less appealing than the first offer that came around.

You’re now at a cross roads. Should you put the house back on the market and hope that someone else comes around and puts in that offer that you’ve been hoping for, or should you rather make sure that you have the documentation in place beforehand, so that a possible buyer won’t be able to put a contingency in there that means they can back out or pull other tricks out of the hat if there’s lead paint? You could easily say that you aren’t interested in offers that are contingent on lead paint or additional discovery of the material in the walls, as you have already disclosed it, and that way you help make sure that you are better able to close the deal in a timely manner.

With all that in mind, it is obvious that you’ll be doing some thinking about what the best situation may be in your specific situation, and it might just be a good idea to consult your local real estate agent when you’re trying to sell your home to hear if there are other houses in the area that have dealt with similar issues when being sold. If you are living in an area that generally have old homes, they’ll know what is the current norm in the market you’re in, and how to best deal with the situation there.

However, there is another very serious concern too.

While the EPA may have been slow in terms of handing out fines to contractors and homeowners in the year of 2020, there’s no denying that you are in fact at risk of getting a substantial fine if you don’t get the documentation that you’re required to have when you’re doing home improvements.

That is, especially if you’re a landlord.

There are certain states that have a lot stricter requirements in terms of documenting and sharing information on the presence of lead paint, when the homes are being rented out to others, and you could also end up in a situation where you’ll have to do an expensive lead abatement job if you’re renting it out in order to bring the condition of the home back to a state that can be considered livable. A term that is pretty general and not always specified, but can definitely be applied when lead paint has deteriorated over the years.

Great, so it’s just a financial concern to make sure that the walls of my home doesn’t have this material in it.

In fact, it is not. Lead was banned in residential paint for a reason, more than 40 years ago. It is no joke.

Think about the fact that it has been more than 40 years since it was banned, and consider what was the norm back at that point. The food pyramid used to look entirely different back at that point than it does today, and yet it has remained universally recognized since then that living in a home with deteriorating lead paint poses a lot of health hazards, ones that you don’t want to be dealing with. Ones that could have a major impact not just on you, but especially on kids that are either living in the home or coming over. Perhaps your niece or nephew comes out on a regular basis and they end up being exposed to the dangerous metal when they’re playing around, meaning that they’ll have their blood levels show elevated lead levels when they’re doing their blood testing.

Is that really something you want to have on your conscience? We thought so – of course it isn’t. The issue is also that you’re not just talking about exposure that will have a consequence now, but we’re talking about lead exposure that will have an ever-lasting consequence on both your health and kids’ health. Kids being especially vulnerable, with the exposure meaning lots of bad things, including developmental delays.

When that’s been said, you should also know that just because you don’t end up getting a fine either now or within the next year, there’s no way to know whether the EPA decides that Santa is coming to town next year, and with him he brings a whole bunch of RRP fines to anyone, homeowners and contractors alike, who hasn’t been able to follow the rules that they explicitly put out.

Ho, ho, ho. Your Christmas just got a lot gloomier.

In fact, there are cities across the United States now where it is becoming ever more frequent that landlords are additionally being targeted when they haven’t lived up to the state’s requirements, or the EPA’s requirements, because there has been a lot of additional focus on making sure that people aren’t exposed to this evil material.

Although the initial RRP rules were instituted in 2008, and later revised in 2010, it is not something that you can just ignore.

It may seem like a long time ago, but the reality is that there are a lot of cities that are just now starting to take significantly stronger stances on the topic of lead paint. Perhaps they were previously unaware of the consequences that it would have, but with everything going on, it has just become too big of an issue to ignore.

The material was initially added to paint because it significantly helps with the durability, among other things, but that may also mean that there were a lot of years following the institution of the ban where paint may have previously been in good condition. 40 years later, reality is a little bit different.

There’s also no denying that there has been a greater focus on children’s health, whether it comes to avoiding the obesity pandemic, or whether it comes to the lead concentrations in their blood.

It definitely is a very unforgiving situation, and we wouldn’t wish it on anybody to have to live with the knowledge that your child has elevated lead levels in their blood. Especially not when it is something that could have easily been avoided by addressing that peeling paint that you saw but never really thought it was something that you had to concern yourself with – after all, it’s just visual, right?

If you followed the link to the EPA’s website that we included, you will now have seen that it does mean that there are houses that are a lot more at risk than others. In fact, if you’re living in a house that was built in 1948 there’s a significantly higher risk that your home contains lead, than if it was built in 1972, but in either case, it must be addressed.

In fact, homes that predate 1940 will have about a 87% chance of containing it, while the risk associated with a home built in 1969 will have about a 24% risk of having it. While the risk is lower in the “newer” homes, you’re not safe, for sure.

And the easiest way to get some sort of tranquility in your life is by ensuring that you have had the testing done, especially on visibly deteriorating paint.

So, how do I go about testing? What’s the process?

The fortunate thing is that it isn’t all that difficult to do testing. All you’ll have to do is find one of those EPA-approved kits that can easily help answer your curiosity. If you’re a homeowner, our recommendation is that you go with a kit like the one from D-Lead, which can get the job done easily, even if you’re a homeowner rather than a contractor. It comes with great instructions on how to get the job done and makes sure that you and your family are safe, because it will at least give you a course of action if it turns out that the paint isn’t quite as safe as you thought it was.

Those kits come in the amount of 24 tests, and while you aren’t able to use each of them on more than just one surface, at least it’s a very homeowner friendly product that can help you out without you having to have undergone all the RRP classes that a contractor has. That is, of course if they have gone and taken the necessary classes on dealing with lead paint that they should have taken, if they are presenting themselves as working on old homes that have the material in them.

What are some of the places where you are more likely to be exposed to lead?

As we previously mentioned, the risk that there is lead in any given material is bigger the older the item is. That is no matter if you are talking about homes, furniture or anything else. Older things are simply more likely to actually contain the harmful substance in the paint. You already know that it is the case when it comes to houses, but the same thing is the case for other things.

The ban that was instituted in 1977 actually only covered the paint in residential homes but did not address that there are still many other places where it was permitted to use the paint. For instance, you could easily have children’s toys lying around from that period of time that aren’t safe for your kids to play with. Kids do have a tendency to put things in their mouth, even when they are not supposed to, and if the paint on an old piece of toys is damaged, your toy will be ingesting lead as a consequence.

It wasn’t up until 1992 that there was a ban that was instituted on the inclusion of paint in consumer products, and even at that point it wasn’t fully banned but it was instead severely limited to the tune of the paint not containing more than 0.5% lead particles. There are, however, other issues that you may not be aware of. If you like going online and you sometimes end up on websites that may not be from recognized brands, there’s a very inherent risk that you could end up buying something from a country where the manufacturing standards are substantially lower. There are countries that may have the laws in place where they shouldn’t in fact be allowed to include it in the paint, but where it still isn’t uncommon that it ends up in products, sometimes even products that are commonly used by kids.

What is the consequence of these poor manufacturing practices in some of the countries that we get a lot of our products from? Unfortunately it is that there are a lot of products out there that do contain the harmful material without it being supposed to be there. It means that there are often recalls on a bunch of products that consumers have bought thinking that these were going to be safe to use and that subsequently turned out not to be the case. Unfortunately it can sometimes be very hard for companies to actually ensure that their manufacturers are following all the necessary laws that they should be following, and that is a very real problem when it comes to a thing like lead paint.

When you start searching online, you will find that it really isn’t uncommon for toy recalls. Our research indicated that there are a significant amount of recalls that can be found, and some of them are as new as having happened this year. For instance, you can see from this list that there are a bunch of toys that were sold at both Target and Amazon where these companies clearly still didn’t do a sufficient job at making sure that the products that were being sold were in fact safe to use. If you go to that website, you can also see a bunch of other recalls, as well as the reason why these objects were originally recalled. It’s interesting to see that most of these products have in fact been sold at very big companies, where you would be more prone to thinking that these companies should have had their safety procedures in place in order to ensure that these problems couldn’t happen. The really problematic thing is also that some of these objects are not just being used by very young children, who are the ones that are the most at risk for the adverse side effects stemming from the exposure, but it is also that some of the recalls are being used in situations where the product was intended for actually coming close to someone’s mouth, like water bottles for instance.

It leaves us very concerned that there are unfortunately so many products that are being released into the market and subsequently being recalled, which is entirely caused by the fact that the manufacturing standards aren’t being properly followed. In the process, thousands of children are being exposed to the harmful substance and will have to endure the lifelong consequences. We already talked about the devastating effects that can stem from lead exposure, and although there are less recalls than was previously the case, we are also living in an unprecedented time where it has become easier for people to buy things from manufacturers in foreign countries and sell them on various platforms, sometimes with very little oversight. It really is quite a challenging situation because there are companies that obviously want to make money from the selling of these various products, and there are the platforms that want to take the commissions that they are taking so that they can keep operating the business that they are operating. It’s unfortunately a situation where it can be very hard to both accept that we are an economy trying to have relatively open borders when it comes to trade, but yet we have to accept the fact that other countries may have radically different safety protocols when it comes to things like this.

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