#TenantTipTuesday: National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

Obviously this is the time of year we’re all thinking about things that go bump in the night – but other than ghosts, ghouls, and goblins, there is something very real to be aware of the third week of October: lead.
The World Health Organization, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Center for Disease Control, and the Environmental Protection Agency all recognize National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week and regularly put out information on the issue. Still, many people do not know about the history of lead poisoning or its potential effects on human health.
Before 1978, lead was abundant in the paint that covered homes. Many of those homes still have the leaded paint covering them, and as the paint chips away the dangerous poison flakes into our homes and potentially into our bodies.
You can get lead in your body by breathing or swallowing lead dust, or by eating soil or paint chips containing lead.

What can lead to human beings?

Adult lead poisoning can cause high blood pressure, reproductive problems, organ damage, muscle and joint pain, mood changes, hearing and vision loss, and loss of feeling in hands and feet. In severe cases, lead poisoning requires medical treatment and hospitalization.
Because lead is poisonous, very small amounts of lead can be harmful. Children with lead poisoning can suffer permanent health effects even though they may not look or act sick. Pregnant women and children are at the greatest risk for developing the following:
  • Learning disabilities
  • Brain damage
  • Decreased IQ
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Hyperactivity
  • Kidney or liver failure

So what is my landlord required to do?

Lead Paint Disclosure

If you live in a home or apartment built before 1978, your landlord must give you an informative booklet, Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home. Your landlord must also notify you of any known lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards in the home or apartment you rent. This information must be given to you every time there is a change in your rental status, such as a rent increase or new lease. Your landlord is not required to test for lead paint.

Pre-Renovation Notice

If you rent housing built before 1978, you must be given notice before a remodeling, painting or repair project begins. This requirement also applies to common areas, such as hallways and lobbies.

Lead-Safe Renovation

Landlords are required to use specific lead-safe work procedures in rental housing receiving federal assistance. Oregon also requires all professionals who disturb lead paint to have a lead-based paint permit.

What can I do as a tenant?

Report lead paint hazards

Notify your landlord if you see paint chips or paint that is cracking, peeling, or rubbing on another surface. Immediately clean up paint chips. Don’t let kids or small animals play near chipped paint areas.

Work lead-safe

Get information on working lead-safe from the Department of Human Services Lead-based Paint Program.

The Oregon Lead Poisoning Prevention Program can be reached at 971.673.0440 or by visiting their website.

Clean lead dust

  • Avoid dry sweeping.
  • Regularly clean with a mop, damp cloth, or sponge in areas where lead dust is most common, such as window sills and floors.
  • Use an all-purpose household cleaner and separate buckets for washing and rinsing. Change the rinse water often.
  • Use one set of mops, sponges or cloths only for lead dust clean-up.

Watch for other lead hazards

  • Household items: pottery, cookware, and toys may contain lead.
  • Occupations: Painters, remodelers, radiator repair persons and others can bring lead into he home from the workplace.
  • Hobbies: People working with stained glass solder, fishing sinkers, bullets, and more can be exposed to lead.

Keep children lead-safe

  • If your children (or any children that visit) play in dirt, make sure it is lead-safe, especially if it is next to a home or building. Have children play on grass if possible.
  • Clean or remove shoes before entering home or apartment to avoid tracking in soil that might contain lead.
  • Regularly wash children’s hands toys, pacifiers, and anything they may put in their mouths.
  • Feed children foods high in iron and calcium, such as milk, fortified cereals, dark green vegetables and beans.
  • If water has sat in the pipes for two hours, let it run for a minute before using it.
  • Cook, drink, and prepare baby forum with only cold tap water.
Children can be hurt by lead even if they don’t look or act sick. If your children are at risk, talk to your health care provider about a blood lead test.

The toll-free Oregon LeadLine is 1-800-368-5060.

Got more questions? Reach out to the Renters’ Rights Hotlines and let us guide you through your concerns.