Lead-based paint and the resulting contaminated house dust and soil are major sources of exposure for young children in the U.S. While many countries banned lead-based paint in the mid-20th century, lead was sold in some U.S. paints until its use was banned in 1978. Based on data from the American Healthy Homes Survey (AHHS) in 2006, more than half of the homes built prior to 1978 have some lead-based paint and homes built prior to 1960 have an even greater risk, where an estimated 76% have lead paint. Interior areas of the home that are frequently disturbed or abraded, such as windows, doors, and railings are the most likely to produce lead-laden dust, which then accumulates on floors and windowsills, and is ingested or inhaled by young children living in the home. On the exterior of homes, paint that degrades and peels can deposit lead into soil, which is also a common source of exposure for children.
Lead hazard control interventions that either contain and stabilize existing sources of lead-based paint (interim controls) or safely remove lead paint in homes are the key preventive solutions to decreasing the risk of lead exposure from lead-based paint for children. Replacement of windows containing lead-paint is a more costly intervention and sometimes included in a lead hazard control intervention as it is an activity shown to be particularly effective. Properly administered lead abatement interventions have been tested in a variety of studies and have been found to decrease a resident child’s blood lead levels and prevent future exposure. Major public funding sources for these interventions are the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) lead hazard control grant programs, which allocate funds to local grantees to perform lead hazard control interventions. To date, HUD reports that nearly 400,000 homes in the U.S. have been made lead-safe through these activities.
The computations on this website represent the costs and benefits of a complete lead hazard control intervention for a home built prior to 1978 where a child in the 2019 birth cohort would reside. The modeled intervention for lead-based paint includes treating paint, dust, soil, and replacing old windows where necessary. Costs include testing all homes built prior to 1978 for lead-based paint and the average cost of completing a lead hazard control intervention in all homes where lead paint is found. Benefits of this intervention include the elimination of lead-based paint hazards, resulting in lower home dust lead levels and lower expected child blood lead levels. It also results in lifetime impacts of increased lifetime earnings, reduced health expenditures, decreased education spending, and a lower risk of mortality.