If your home (or the home that you are considering buying or renting) was built before 1978 you should assume that painted surfaces contain lead paint, unless those surfaces have been tested and found not to contain lead.

Lead paint that is peeling, chipping, flaking, chalking, or cracking is dangerous and requires immediate attention. Lead contaminated dust and paint chips will be produced if these conditions are not corrected. Lead paint may be dangerous when it is on areas with heavy wear such as windows, doorways, stairs, floors, and porches because it is likely to become loosened and turn to dust. Lead paint may also be dangerous when it is on surfaces that children can reach such as windowsills and railings because some children chew on molding.

Deteriorating exterior lead paint can contaminate soil. Soil may also have been contaminated from leaded gasoline emissions in the past (especially in high traffic areas). Lead in soil can be a hazard to children who play in that soil. People and pets can also track lead-contaminated soil into the home. Lead does not degrade or evaporate, but remains in soil permanently.

Lead can be present in older homes that have lead pipes or lead solder in the drinking water plumbing system. This may be a problem if there is lead in the plumbing and the water is corrosive.

Public water supplies must meet state standards that prevent corrosion of pipes and release of lead.

However, you may want to test your tap water for lead if you are on a private well.


An inspection identifies lead painted surfaces throughout your home and identifies potential sources of serious lead exposure (such as peeling paint).

Dust wipe samples will be collected in selected locations to determine if lead dust hazards exist. A report explains actions that may be taken to address any identified lead hazards.

It is not recommend the use of do-it-yourself lead test kits such as those you may have seen at a paint or hardware store. These tests are not reliable. Do not rely on these kits because they are not dependable.