Living in Iowa: What you need to know about lead-based paint

Lead poisoning causes serious health problems, especially for young children. One of the major causes of lead poisoning is lead-based paint.

The federal government restricted the use of lead in household paint in 1978. Before this, lead was a common additive to interior and exterior house paint. But that doesn’t mean lead-based paint is a problem of the past. Since over half of the homes in Iowa were built before 1978, lead-based paint is a concern of many people living in Iowa.

Living in Iowa: What you need to know about lead-based paint

Why is lead-based paint such a big deal?

Lead is a toxic metal that can cause serious health issues. Exposure to lead-based paint can lead to lead poisoning. Lead poisoning symptoms can range from headaches and nausea, to even more serious concerns, such as brain and nervous system damage. Though young children are at the greatest risk, it can affect adults too.

Lead-based paint poses the biggest threat when it’s flaking, peeling or cracking (or when it’s been sanded or otherwise created dust).

Young children get lead in their bodies when they put contaminated objects in their mouths, eat paint chips, or play in the contaminated soil around an older home.

The law and lead-based paint

In 1992 Congress passed the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, also known as Title X. The law went into effect in 1996. Section 1018 of this law requires that homeowners disclose information on lead-based paint before the selling any property built before 1978.

As a home seller, you are not required to test your home for lead-based paint before you sell it. But, by law, you are required to disclose any known information about lead-based paint in your home. You also need to provide home buyers with the opportunity to test and inspect the home for lead-based paint risks before they are bound by contract to buy the home.

The quick and dirty of lead-based paint in homes

What is lead-based paint?

Lead-based paint is any paint that contains lead. Lead was often a component in paint before 1978. It was used even more frequently before 1960.

Where is it found?

Lead-based paint can be inside and outside of any home built before 1978. It is often found on painted, exterior and interior wood surfaces of homes. The walls in older homes can also have lead-based paint (particularly the bathroom and kitchen). The older the home is, the more likely it is to have lead-based paint.

The soil surrounding older homes can have elevated levels of lead. It’s for this reason, children should not play in the soil surrounding older homes. Also, you shouldn’t plant vegetable gardens directly around an older home.

How do you know if your home (or the home you are buying) has lead-based paint?

Have a risk assessment done on the home by a certified lead-based paint professional. A trained specialist will use a variety of methods, including X-ray fluorescence and lab tests, to determine if there is lead in the paint. Home tests have been reported as somewhat unreliable.

What if you have lead-based paint in your home?

Get everyone in your household tested for elevated levels of lead in the blood. Your doctor can provide you with more information.

You can take the following steps to help reduce risk and protect you and your family from lead poisoning:

  • Wet mop floors
  • Vacuum frequently
  • Use a damp cloth to dust all surfaces on a regular basis
  • Promptly clean up any chipped paint (and address the problem immediately)
  • Remove shoes before entering the house
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Don’t allow children play in the soil around the house
  • Eat a healthy diet

For more information

If you’re selling your home, you need to fill out two disclosure forms:

For more information on lead poisoning and how to protect your family:


Whether you’re selling or buying a home, the process can feel intimidating and overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to. At Coluzzi Real Estate, we answer all your questions and simplify the process. We’re there for you every step of the way. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today!

This article is for informative purposes and is not legal advice. Local, state and federal laws are subject to change. If you have questions or concerns about lead-based paint laws, we advise speaking with a lawyer and/or your real estate agent and research the latest laws.

photo credit: Pixabay



About the Author:

Amanda has lived in the Des Moines area since 1999, where she and her husband have bought and sold a handful of homes over the years, including a recent flip. Amanda enjoys writing, obsesses about personal finance and is fond of looking at houses. She loves sharing useful tips and info to make life easier for anyone wanting to buy or sell a home. In her spare time, Amanda cherishes time with her family, volunteers with IHYC, gardens, hikes, and practices TaeKwonDo. You can read more of her writing at whywemoney.com