Summary of Suggestions

Ask the landlord:

When was the building constructed?

Has the interior paint ever been tested for lead? If so, ask to see the results.

Have windows been replaced?

Does the building contain any lead plumbing materials?

Has the tap water in the rental unit ever been tested for lead? If so, ask to see the results.

If the paint has not been tested:

Consider having it tested yourself; otherwise, assume that any housing built before 1978 (1960 in New York City) contains lead paint.

Check the condition of all painted surfaces to make sure the paint is intact, and keep an eye on the paint condition after you move in.

Thoroughly wash the entire home before moving your family or any belongings into a rental house or apartment.

Vacuum carpeted areas thoroughly, if possible using a vacuum cleaner equipped with an agitator. Bare floors in good condition that can be washed regularly can be cleaned more thoroughly than carpets. Control lead dust with regular (twice- weekly) washing and damp dusting.

Report damaged paint that may contain lead to the landlord immediately, and keep children away. Follow up to be sure the paint is repaired quickly and properly.

Wash children's hands and faces frequently during the day, especially before meals, naps and bedtime. Wash pacifiers, teething toys and other toys that go into your child's mouth at least daily.

If the tap water has not been tested:

Use only cold, fully flushed tap water for cooking, drinking and baby formula preparation.

Consider having the tap water tested for lead yourself.

If testing shows that a fully flushed sample of tap water contains more than 15 ug/l of lead, consider using bottled water of known quality for cooking, drinking and formula preparation, or consider installing a water filtering device at your tap that is specifically designed to remove lead.

To prevent exposure to lead in outdoor soils:

Don't allow preschool children to play or dig in outdoor soils that are contaminated with lead.

Put a dust mat outside your door and clean it regularly.

To find out for sure whether or not your preschool-age children are being exposed to dangerous levels of lead:

Have them tested! Just as you can't be sure an apartment or house has no lead paint unless you get it tested, you can't be sure that your children aren't being exposed to dangerous lead levels unless you get them tested. Remember that lead poisoning is usually a hidden disease; the only way that lead poisoning can usually be discovered is with a blood test.