How Dangerous is Lead Paint?

Q: I’m repainting some rooms in my house, and some of the paint is pretty old. How concerned do I need to be about the possibility of there being lead paint?

A: You should be very concerned. Home renovators can create lead hazards without realizing it. If old paint is not handled properly, lead dust and paint chips can remain in the home long after the work is completed. Paint removal by blasting, burning, dry scraping, dry sanding and using power tools creates the most serious dangers because the particles are small enough to be inhaled or deposited in furnishings or carpet, making complete removal extremely difficult.

To learn more about how to protect yourself  during renovation work, review the excellent guide produced by the Environmental Protection agency.

Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting

Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at

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.9 days ago

Thank you I am glad about the encouragement! I love your site, you post outstanding.

Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga5 years ago

i dont care, nothing shall keep me from painting

Ellinor S.
Ellinor S.5 years ago

thank you

Soul Wine
Tonya lee5 years ago

If you have children, you can call your local or state health dept and request a lead risk assessment(for hazards) or lead inspection(for presence).

Katie D.
Katie D.6 years ago

Kathryn Chase

Staatsburg, N.Y. 12580

I am writing this letter to let you know how lead paint destroyed my families life. In Sept. of 1999 I lost my Dad he was 44 years old the house in which I spent much time at growing up and in my 20’s for family dinners was willed to me. I absolutely loved the idea of raising my family here such fun and happy memories. In 2003 my 2 year old daughter was diagnosed with a lead level of 13. I contacted the board of health and asked them for help finding the lead in my home. They refused because her lead level was to low. Still unaware of the lead source we went on with life. In Oct. of 2005 I gave birth to my son who we happily named after my Dad. At his 1 year checkup his lead level came back at 56. He was immediately hospitalized and the board of health wasted no time contacting me about examining my home for lead. At which point ( while my son is in the hospital with drs. telling all about brain damage and me crying my eyes out cause my perfect sons life could possible be destroyed) the board of health finds a house full of lead paint throws us out on the street hands us a booklet and tells us we have 2 months to remove the lead or their taking us to court and taking the children if we returned before thwe lead paint was removed. Did I mention that at the time my husband was out of work and as I family I was getting food stamps. I as a loving mother only wanting to concentrate on my sons health now had more on my plat

Vural K.
Past Member 6 years ago

Carol H.
Past Member 6 years ago

Do not use it at all costs it is very dangerous and that is very dangerous and that is the way it is.

Sharon Hoehner
Sharie Fox6 years ago

You can buy lead testing kits but beware that there could be many layers of paint beneath that do contain lead. You may just want to cover it up rather than removing it.

It wouldn't hurt to do a chelation program too. NCD zeolite removes lead from the body without causing damage to the organs or leaching good minerals:

Robyn H.
Robyn H.6 years ago

Great question! Also see this article when you are ready to re-paint - some great tips for choosing new paint: