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What you need to know about lead paint in your home

The visible condition of the home you are renting may not be a guarantee that it is a safe place for you and your family to live. Lead paint can be a problem in homes built before 1978, and your landlord might not even be aware of it.

Having a professional inspect your home may be expensive, and your landlord may not want to foot the bill. However, this is an instance where it is worthwhile to investigate for yourself.

Learning about lead

Web MD warns that lead is toxic. Although anyone can absorb lead dust is in the air, very young children can suffer greater exposure due to putting contaminated objects in their mouths. Not only are they at higher risk, they also may suffer more damage because the lead affects their nervous system development.

Testing for lead

It can be a good idea to have everyone in your home screened for lead. Although a positive blood test does not automatically mean the exposure came from your home, it does indicate that you should explore the situation further.

Many do-it-yourself paint testing kits are successful means for identifying lead. Although they are not always easy to use, Consumer Reports states that home lead tests are worth the effort. There are two basic kinds, and that organization recommends you use both, as each may produce a false positive in different circumstances. A sulfide-based kit could give you a faulty result on dark-colored paint, while a rhodizonate-based test may result in a false positive if you are testing pink or red paint. By using both, you eliminate the most potential for error.

Telling your landlord

Although the state of California does not require your landlord to test for lead, once you show evidence that it is present, he should take care of it through removal or encapsulation. Because this may be a serious habitability issue, you may have legal options if your landlord does not take immediate action. You and your family deserve to live in a residence free from the dangers of lead.

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