Lead based paint was banned in 1978. So any house built before then can potentially have lead based paint in it. Most houses in Arlington were built before 1978 – especially the affordable ones. So should you worry?
Lead based paint is a serious issue – if the paint is chipping and it ends up in a child’s mouth – it can do some serious damage to the brain. If you are doing a remodel and disturb lead based paint – your whole family can end up with lead poisoning. So you need to be aware of the dangers. Here is a booklet prepared by EPA how to protect your family from lead. Every client buying a home built before 1978 has to sign that they received this booklet from me.
Interestingly lead based paint inspections are extremely uncommon in Arlington. Sellers are required to disclose if they are aware of any lead based paint in the home, but usually they are not aware of any. The buyers usually accept this “disclosure” and buy a home without an inspection. Why?
- Hey – it did not kill the sellers, our parents grew up with lead based paint, most of us grew up with lead based paint – how bad can it be?
- What if we find lead based paint – then we will have to disclose it to the future purchasers. Do we really want to do that?
- If we do find lead based paint in the walls – will the seller be removing walls for us? Probably not.
And usually it’s OK to not know – if you are not doing any remodeling, if you make sure no paint is chipping – then you can live not knowing the lead based paint situation.
I just had a client who opted to do a lead based paint inspection in an older Arlington home built in 1951. I was really anxious to find out the results. So what were the results? Except for a couple of doors and a ceiling beam – the house was clean of lead based paint. It was a lot better than I expected. Lead based paint inspector told me that builders never chose to use lead based paint, because it was so much more expensive back then. If there was lead based paint – the owners had to do it themselves.
There are many ways to do a lead based paint inspection. The 2 most common test are paint swipes – which really test just a couple of surfaces, but is a more affordable option costing a couple of hundred bucks or use a technology like X-ray Fluorescent Spectrum Analyzer. If you choose to use the X-Ray – every wall will be tested and the results are immediate. The cost of the inspection for my client was $525 for a medium size home. We used Geller Environmental – I highly recommend it.
So there is really no perfect answer – you have to weight your pros and cons.