Lead Paint Warning: Most Homes in NY Metro Area Built Before 1978

Risks from Lead Paint And Contaminated Lead Dust Abound

lead paint older homesApproximately 80 percent of homes in the New York Metropolitan area were built before 1978, according to U.S. Census figures. This means that you should be aware that particles from lead paint, which was commonly used in homes before 1978, still pose a health risk throughout the region.

A review of Census data shows particularly high percentages of the housing stock in New York City and its surrounding counties – including Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Fairfield, Passaic, and Bergen, among others – were constructed before the federal government banned consumer uses of lead-contaminating paint in 1978.

The problem is, lead based paint could still be present in your home. When swallowed or inhaled, lead can get into the bloodstream and become detrimental to brain function and learning capability, especially in children. It’s also particularly harmful to pets.

This should raise real concerns for homeowners and residents because lead from deteriorating paint – notably lead contaminated dust – is one of the most common causes of lead poisoning, says Robert Weitz, a principal and licensed lead inspector with the environmental testing firm RTK Environmental, headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut.

Weitz advises people living in older homes or buildings to look at painted areas such as exterior siding and doors and door frames, along with banisters, porches, railings and surfaces with a lot of wear-and-tear to see if paint is peeling, chipping, cracking or damaged.

Lead dust from friction on painted surfaces is the #1 cause of lead poisoning. Even though the paint may be in good shape, it can definitely still be a hazard.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, dangerous lead dust can dwell outside the home as well, and can be tracked into the home from soil outside that is contaminated by deteriorated exterior lead-based paint. Renovation, repair or painting activities can also generate toxic lead dust when painted surfaces are disturbed or demolished, according to the EPA.

It’s best to be safe, notes Weitz. If you would like to schedule a home lead inspection or have questions about lead poisoning, call RTK Environmental today at (800) 392-6468 or visit RTKEnvironmental.com.

Are You In Danger? See How Your Area Scores:

Approximate percentage of households built before 1978 by county:

  • Nassau – 88.5 percent
  • Brooklyn – 87.2 percent
  • Manhattan – 82.1 percent
  • Westchester – 81 percent
  • Hartford – 73.8 percent
  • Fairfield – 73.7 percent
  • Queens –72.8 percent
  • Suffolk – 72.8 percent
  • Bronx – 72.4 percent
  • Rockland – 71.5 percent
  • Litchfield – 68.7 percent
  • Putnam – 67.1 percent
  • Tolland – 64.6 percent


Source: U.S. Census

Past exposure to lead may be to blame for over 400,000 deaths in the United States every year (The Lancet Public Health.)

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