Where Lead is Likely to be a Hazard

Lead from paint chips, which you can see, and lead dust, which you can't always see, can be serious hazards.

  • Peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking lead-based paint is a hazard and needs immediate attention.

  • Lead-based paint may also be a hazard when found on surfaces that children can chew or that get a lot of wear-and-tear.  These areas include:

  • Windows and window sills.

  • Doors and door frames.

  • Stairs, railings, and banisters.

  • Porches and fences.

  • Lead-based paint is usually not a hazard if it is in good condition, and it is not on an impact or friction surface, like a window. It is defined by the Federal government as paint with lead levels greater than or equal to 1.0 milligram per square centimeter, or more than 0.5% by weight.

  • Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is scraped, sanded, or heated. Dust also forms when painted surfaces bump or rub together. Lead chips and dust can get on surfaces and objects that people touch. Settled lead dust can re-enter the air when people vacuum, sweep, or walk through it. The following two Federal standards have been set for lead hazards in dust:

  • 40 micrograms per square foot (ug/ft2) and higher for floors, including carpeted floors.

  • 250 ug/ft2 and higher for interior window sills.

  • Lead in soil can be a hazard when children play in bare soil or when people bring soil into the house on their shoes. The following two Federal standards have been set for lead hazards in residential soil:

  • 400 parts per million (ppm) and higher in play areas of bare soil.

  • 1,200 ppm (average) and higher in bare soil in the remainder of the yard.

  • Contact the National Lead Information Center (NLIC) to find out about testing soil for lead.