small child sits with dog on a sofaAll tenants have a right to safe, healthy, and clean housing. Landlords are required to follow lead safe work practices when repairing, renovating, or painting pre-1978 buildings. Tenants are responsible for keeping their rental units clean and working with their landlords to address potential lead hazards.

Lead poisoning can be prevented. Landlords and tenants can work together to reduce and eliminate exposure to lead dust and deteriorating lead paint.

Ways to Keep Your Apartment Lead Safe

person wearing protective gloves wipes the window sill with a sponge

  • Identify potential sources of lead in and around your apartment.
  • Lead can be found in many places in your apartment, such as in peeling and chipping lead paint, dust from lead paint, soil in your yard, tap water from lead pipes or lead solder, pottery, crystal, ceramic dishes, and toys.
  • Keep the paint in your apartment in good condition.
  • Cover areas with peeling paint or plaster with duct tape or contact paper until it can be repaired.
  • If you see chipping or peeling paint inside your apartment, notify your landlord.
  • If you see chipping or peeling paint inside your apartment, clean the area using lead-safe practices.
  • Cleaning regularly will help you reduce your exposure to lead in paint, dust, and soil.
  • Clean or remove shoes or use a doormat before entering your apartment to prevent tracking in soil that may contain lead.
  • Clean floors and other areas in your apartment that are more likely to gather lead dust, such as windows, stair treads, doors, and door frames, using lead-safe practices.
  • Use cold tap water for drinking and cooking. Run water until it feels cold before using.

Renovating, Repairing, or Painting Your Apartment

leadsafe-400In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule went into effect. The EPA’s RRP rule requires contractors who work on homes built before 1978 to be trained and certified in using lead-safe work practices. If painting and home improvement activities disturb lead paint, they can create a lead hazard by producing pain dust, chips, or fumes which can poison family members, visitors, and neighbors. Lead dust cannot safely be cleaned up by traditional cleaning methods, such as sweeping or vacuuming with an ordinary vacuum cleaner.

Home repairs that create even a small amount of lead dust are enough to harm your child. To protect your family, if you live in a house or apartment that was built before 1978, make sure your landlord hires a contractor who is Lead-Safe Certified. Visit the EPA’s website to find a Lead-Safe Certified Contractor in your area or call 800-424-LEAD-FREE. If your landlord is doing the work, make sure he or she is using lead-safe work practices.

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Testing Your Apartment for Lead Hazards

There are several options for testing your apartment for lead hazards.

  • Household Lead Test Kit: You can buy a household lead test kit at a hardware store. Follow included instructions to get an accurate result.
  • Send paint samples to a certified laboratory.
  • Lead Dust Tests: Simple and quick kits can identify if there is a lead dust problem in your apartment.
  • Soil Tests: You may want to test areas near your apartment where your children play or the soil in your garden.
  • Water Tests: Public water supplies are tested for lead. You can contact them to find out the test results. You can also get your water tested for lead on you own, which is especially important if your water comes from a private well.
  • Professional Lead Inspectors: You can hire a professional lead inspector to test your apartment. A professional inspector will be able to measure lead in paint, even if it is covered. They can also test your soil, dust, and water for lead.

Learn more about testing for lead hazards.

Eliminating Lead Hazards in Your Apartment

There are several methods that can be used to eliminate lead hazards in your home. Repainting is not a permanent solution, but may reduce lead exposure. In addition, lead-painted objects can be replaced with lead-free replacements (e.g., doors, window casings, moldings, and trim). Consider permanently covering surfaces that cannot be replaced. For example, floors and walls can be covered with a permanent covering such as sheetrock, paneling, or floor tiles. If you want to remove lead paint permanently from your apartment, you can hire a lead abatement expert.

Working with Your Landlord

Be sure to review educational materials and inspections reports from your landlord. Federal law requires landlords to provide an EPA-approved information pamphlet  about identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards, any known information about the presence of lead-based paint hazards, and language in the contract indicating that the seller has complied with the notification requirements. Learn more about the EPA’s requirements for sellers and landlords. If your landlord does not provide you with the required information, or is not adequately addressing your concerns about lead hazards in the apartment, you can contact your state’s lead program for assistance.

Resources for Tenants