With many homes in Ohio built before the United States ban on use of lead based paint in 1978, lead is still an issue in many homes and buildings across the state. A study commissioned by the state in 2009 found about 36% of children between the ages of six months and six years were almost guaranteed to live in a home with lead based paint. From the study, the top five cities affected are: Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, and Akron.

Because you cannot visibly see if paint has lead in it or not, the only way to be sure if lead is present is to have it professionally tested. Because home test kits are less than reliable, you will not know the dangers you may be exposed too. The only positive way to find out if you or someone you know has been exposed to lead is through a blood test. Poisoning from lead may cause stomach pains, fatigue, mood swings, kidney damage, seizers, reproductive issues, coma, and in extreme cases death.

If buying a home built before 1978, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Anyone selling a home, must disclose in writing any known information about lead paint in the home, and must share any test results of any lead tests performed. Contracts are to give potential buyers up to ten days to check for lead, and while not required by the buyer they must be given the opportunity. Any home buyer must be given a copy of the EPA publication “Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home.”

If renovating a home built before 1978, you should hire a company to test for lead and then someone qualified to remove it if found. In 2008, the EPA issued the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule which states firms performing renovation, repair and painting projects in homes before 1978, must be certified by the EPA. If the project is small enough, and you would prefer to do the work yourself, remember to use proper PPE of gloves, goggles, and a respirator with special lead (HEPA) filters. Make sure to properly clean and sanitize the area when completed.

Doing a little investigation, and knowing whom to talk to, will help keep – or remove – lead exposure from your home. To learn more, visit the EPA’s webpage on Lead.