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Lead

Recent lead poisoning research and changes in public policy have increased knowledge and awareness of hazards associated with lead-based paint. Because lead-based paint is common in older buildings, it is important that those involved with the care and management of historic properties be aware of the potential hazards.

At one time, lead poisoning was commonly associated with children eating chips of paint. Now, it is known that dust containing lead paint particles is a serious and prevalent health hazard. The every-day act of opening and closing a window can create a hazard if the friction surfaces contain lead-based paint, because lead-contaminated particles are abraded and collect in the window well and on other surfaces accessible to children, whose health and development can be permanently harmed by lead poisoning.

Not all historic properties contain lead-based paint, but the earlier the construction date, the more likely lead is present and in higher concentrations. Prior to World War II, lead was commonly used in paints as a hiding agent, rust inhibitor, and color additive on wood or metal surfaces such as clapboards, shingles, trim, mantels, shutters, doors, staircases, furniture, and even children's toys. After the war, the use of lead in paints was reduced but was still an ingredient in some paints. In 1977, the United States federal government banned the use of lead in household paint.

Raymond, Martha. Lead-Based Paint Hazards: Considerations for Historic Property Managers, Part 1 (Ohio Historic Preservation Office) Columbus, Ohio: Local History Notebook, Ohio Historical Society, November / December 1996

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