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Q&A: Lead paint dangerous for a baby?

Should I be concerned about lead paint in my home? How can I make sure it’s safe before I bring baby home?

Re: Should I be concerned about lead paint in my home? How can I make sure it’s safe before I bring baby home?

The Bump Expert

Yes, you should definitely be concerned. Ingesting lead paint or its dust can be extremely harmful, and small children -- thanks to their tendency to put, oh, anything in their mouths – are especially at risk. Years ago, lead was added to paint to make it last longer. Paint made before World War II has the highest levels. In the 1950s, when experts started realizing the danger of lead, the amount in paint was reduced. Then, in 1978, lead paint was banned entirely from residential use. So, if your home was built before 1978, take special care.

First, get any flaking or peeling paint sealed or removed by a professional. (This goes for any paint, whether or not it’s lead based. You never know what’s under that first layer… and even if it’s not lead, baby still shouldn’t ingest it.) You can test your home for lead on your own -- Home Depot sells kits -- or, if you’re especially concerned, call your local Department of Health to find official laboratories that will do the evaluating for you. And,depending on your area, your landlord could be required to pay for elimination of the risk -- the Department of Health can also give you info on this.

Paula Kashtan