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lead check


What is lead?
Lead is a metal found naturally in the environment. It has also been widely used over the years in gasoline, house paint and plumbing fixtures. The amount of lead that is released into the environment each year has been greatly reduced by less use of leaded gas, starting in the mid-70’s. Laws forbidding use of lead in house paint (1978) and lead in plumbing solder (1986) have helped as well. Still, lead can be a problem especially in older homes.

Why the concern?
People may be exposed to lead in the food they eat, the air they breathe and the water they drink. Lead can be harmful to health and cause problems when it builds up in the body. Too much lead in the human body can cause serious damage to the brain, nervous system and red blood cells. Pregnant women and young children are at the greatest risk even with short-term, low level exposures. Young children between the ages of sic months and six years are more likely to suffer health problems from lead exposure. Lead poisoning can slow a child’s physical growth and mental development; and can cause behavior problems, mental retardation, kidney and liver damage, blindness and even death.

How does lead get into the water we drink?
Lead in drinking water usually results from the use of lead pipe in water systems or lead-based solder on water pipes. Leaching of lead into water occurs when corrosive water dissolves lead from lead pipes or soldered joints. Soft, corrosive or acidic (low pH) water is more likely to cause leaching, or removal of lead into the water. Water left standing in the pipes over a long period of time also results in leaching. The longer the water stands in the pipes, the greater the possibility of lead being dissolved into the water.

Can the risk be lowered?
Yes, the risk can be lowered, in most cases, pretty easily. To reduce the amount of lead in water:

1. Run the tap until water is cold to the touch before using it for drinking or cooking. This is especially important after the water has been standing in the pipes overnight or over many hours.

2. Use only water from the cold water tap for cooking, drinking or making a baby’s formula. Hot water picks up more lead from pipes and solder.

3. Check household plumbing for lead-based pipes or solder. A plumber can help.

4. Use only lead-free materials in all plumbing repairs or new faucets and pipes. The use of lead solder in plumbing was banned in New York State in 1986.


If you are planning to buy, rent, or renovate a home built before 1978, you should know that many houses and apartments built before 1978 have paint that contain lead (called lead-based paint.) Lead from paint, chips, and dust can pose serious health hazards if not taken care of properly. In general, the older your home, the more likely it has lead-based paint.

Lead-based paint that is in good condition is usually not a hazard. 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:

ľ Windows and window sills
ľ Doors and door frames
ľ Stairs, railings and banisters
ľ Porches and fences

Lead dust can form when lead-base paint is dry scraped, dry 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 reenter the air when people vacuum, sweep, or walk through it.

More Information on Lead Testing