Lead-based Paint Hazards

Children are more susceptible to harm from toxins such as lead than are adults. This vulnerability is due to their smaller size as well as their propensity to play on floors and on the ground outside. The primary sources of lead are old paint, dust, some water, some canned goods, some ceramic tableware, and effluent from factories that smelt or recycle lead. The Clean Air Act of 1970 and subsequent EPA regulations have reduced lead in the atmosphere by 90 percent. The single most important action in this regard was the removal of lead from gasoline. The Lead Paint Poisoning Prevention Act of 1971 banned the use of lead in household paint, but many houses still have lead in interior paint. Almost all of the houses built before 1960, for example, have leaded paint, as do approximately 20 percent of the houses built between 1960 and 1978. Paint, therefore, stands out as the main source of potential lead exposure for children.

The extent of potential lead-based paint hazard has been determined from 2000 Census data based on the age of the City's housing stock. The criteria for this potential is houses constructed before 1978, after which lead based paint was no longer likely to be available. Of the 8,888 dwelling units in Fredericksburg, 6,262 have been found to be pre-1978 stock. Roughly 37 percent of this number, or 2,493 units, are occupied by low-income or extremely low-income households. Approximately half of these 2,493 dwelling units are pre-1960 stock and very likely to contain lead paint. Only a portion of the remaining low-income households who occupy pre-1978 housing stock are likely to be exposed to a lead hazard.


What can you do? (Courtesy of Department of Housing and Urban Development)

If your home was built before 1978:

  • Wipe down flat surfaces, like window sills, with a damp paper towel and throw away the paper towel,
  • Mop smooth floors (using a damp mop) weekly to control dust,
  • Take off shoes when entering the house
  • Vacuum carpets and upholstery to remove dust,
  • If possible, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter or a "higher efficiency" collection bag,
  • Pick up loose paint chips carefully with a paper towel and discard in the trash, then wipe the surface clean with a wet paper towel,
  • Take precautions to avoid creating lead dust when renovating or maintaining your home,
  • Test for lead hazards by a lead professional. (Have the soil tested too).

For your child:

  • Have your child's blood lead level tested at age 1 and 2. Children from 3 to 6 years of age should have their blood tested, if they have not been tested before and:
    • They live in or regularly visit a house built before 1950,
    • They live in or regularly visit a house built before 1978 with on-going or recent renovations or remodeling
    • They have a sibling or playmate who has or did have lead poisoning
  • Frequently wash your child's hands and toys to reduce contact with dust,
  • Use cold tap water for drinking and cooking
  • Avoid using home remedies (such as arzacon, greta, pay-loo-ah, or litargirio) and cosmetics (such as kohl or alkohl) that contain lead
  • Certain candies, such as tamarindo candy jam products from Mexico, may contain high levels of lead in the wrapper or stick. Be cautious when providing imported candies to children
  • Some tableware, particularly folk terra cotta plates and bowls from Latin America, may contain high levels of lead that can leach into food.

More information on how to protect your household from Lead-Based Paint is available in the Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home brochure produced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and HUD.

Renovation, Repair and Painting of Pre-1978 Residential Buildings and Child Care Facilities