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  • Writer's pictureJesse Ledbetter

Lead Based Paint

Lead is a heavy metal that has been used by humans for thousands of years. Its malleability and low melting point made it a popular material for pipes, coins, and even makeup. However, as early as the 2nd century BCE, there were writings about the dangers of lead toxicity. The Greek physician Nicander wrote about lead poisoning in his work Theriaca, and the Roman writer Vitruvius warned about the dangers of lead pipes in his book De Architectura.

Throughout history, there have been many documented cases of lead poisoning, often resulting from occupational exposure to lead. The ancient Romans, for example, used lead extensively in their plumbing systems and for decorative purposes, and many historians believe that lead poisoning played a role in the decline of the Roman Empire. In the Middle Ages, lead was used to glaze pottery, and pottery workers were known to suffer from lead poisoning. In the 18th century, lead was used to create white lead paint, which was widely used in homes and other buildings. Workers who produced or applied the paint were at high risk for lead poisoning.

In the United States, lead was commonly used in gasoline until the 1970s, when its harmful effects on human health became widely known. Lead was also used in many other products, including paint, pipes, and batteries. One of the most notable examples of lead poisoning in the United States occurred in Flint, Michigan, where the city's water supply was contaminated with lead due to a change in the source of the water supply. The dangers of lead toxicity have been well-known for centuries, but it was not until the 20th century that governments and organizations began to take action to reduce exposure to lead. In the 1920s, the first laws regulating lead exposure in the workplace were passed in the United States. These laws were followed by regulations limiting the amount of lead in gasoline and other products.

Despite this long history of knowledge about the dangers of lead, lead-based paint was widely used in homes until the late 1970s. The problem with lead-based paint is that over time, it can chip, peel, or flake, which can release the lead into the air and settle on surfaces in the home, such as floors and countertops. Children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning because they tend to put their hands in their mouths and can ingest lead dust. Even small amounts of lead exposure can have significant and permanent impacts on a child's development.

In recognition of the health hazards posed by lead-based paint, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requires that any chipping or peeling paint be cured before the loan can be approved for a home built before 1978. This requirement applies to both the interior and exterior of the home, as well as any outbuildings or garages. The FHA requires that all defective paint surfaces be cured or repaired before the loan is approved, to ensure that any potential health hazards from lead-based paint are addressed before the new homeowners move in.

The FHA roster appraiser is responsible for inspecting the home and determining its value, and they are required to report any defective paint surfaces. The appraiser must report any areas where paint is chipping, peeling, or flaking, as well as any areas where there is evidence of paint disturbance, such as friction surfaces. This is to ensure that any potential health hazards from lead-based paint are addressed before the loan is approved and the new homeowners move in. The appraiser must also report any evidence of paint deterioration, including cracking, scaling, chalking, or discoloration, and recommend appropriate corrective action.

Lead-based paint hazards are a serious public health issue, and the FHA's requirement to cure all chipping and peeling paint in homes built before 1978 is an important step in addressing this problem.

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