Lead-based paint was banned in 1978 and lead plumbing materials were prohibited in 1986. It is important to realize that just because the law changed doesn’t necessarily mean all contractors were in compliance. For this reason, we recommend all homes constructed before 1980 be tested for unsafe levels of lead based paint or leaded dust hazards. Lead paint which remains undisturbed on a wall generally doesn’t pose a threat the occupants of the home. However, there are many activities that occur in the normal course of living in a home that can and do create lead dust hazards. Of particular note are friction areas such was windows and doors which are regularly opened or impacted that allow a release of leaded dust which can accumulate in window troughs, on window sills, and floors near these areas. This accumulation of dust is transferred to the residents hands and can be ingested during normal activities. Children under 6 are at an elevated risk due to the fact they tend to put there hands in the mouth more often and are likely to play on the floor where leaded dust accumulates.
There are two types of lead paint inspections. The State of California identifies them as Risk Assessments and Lead Based Paint Inspection. Risk Assessments are designed to identify lead dust hazards in a residence or public building. Lead based paint inspection are surface by surface inspections of residential or public buildings to identify lead based paint but they do not include an assessment of the hazard. This is an important distinction between the two services. Many times people need to know if a hazard exists but they order a paint inspection. In this case, knowing is paint contains lead will not identify or quantify the risk. Risk assessment quantify leaded dust concentrations on floors, window sills, exterior sills, exterior bare soil areas, and interior horizontal surfaces. California has established standards for what concentration lead can be present in dust and not represent a hazard. The quantities are measured in micro-grams which are barely visible to the naked eye which gives you some indication that a very small amount of lead in dust represents a significant hazard.