Lead FAQ

  1. What is lead poisoning?
  2. Who gets lead poisoning?
  3. What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?
  4. What complications can occur from lead poisoning?
  5. Are all Dwelling units Regulated for lead?
  6. When are inspections required?
  7. Could more than one inspection be required?
  8. Can a Maryland property owner obtain lead-free status and be exempt from the risk reduction standards?
  9. What are the professionals who are involved in a lead project in Maryland?

What is lead poisoning?

Lead is a nonessential metal. Lead in the body is unnatural. Lead poisoning results from the consumption of lead in some form. Children, with normal hand-to-mouth activity, ingest substantial amounts of lead from household dust when deteriorating lead-containing paint is present. It takes little lead to cause lead poisoning. A child can become severely lead poisoned by eating one milligram of lead-paint dust (60-80 ug/dl), which is equivalent to about three granules of sugar each day during childhood. To achieve blood-lead levels of 36 ug/dl, a child would have to eat just the equivalent of one granule of sugar a day. Lead-containing dust also may be inhaled by children through respiration.

Who gets lead poisoning?

Anyone who consumes lead may become poisoned. The highest incidence is in children between one and six years of age, but especially those between one and three. It is the best known environmental cause of illnesses in children. Children at the developmental stage of placing hands and objects in mouth are the most likely to consume lead if it is present in their environment.

What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?

There is no precise direct correlation between blood level and clinical manifestations. Children with blood lead levels greater than 100 ug/dl may occasionally appear clinically well, and children with blood lead level 30-35 ug/dl may be symptomatic. The probability of severe symptoms increases with the increase in exposure to lead, and is greater the higher the blood lead level is.

If blood lead levels are low, there may be no obvious symptoms of lead poisoning, although even low levels of lead may alter physiology and impact child development. Studies have shown an increase of blood lead from 10 ug/dl to 20 ug/dl results in an average decrease in IQ of approximately 2 points. That is why it is important to screen young children for lead poisoning.

Symptoms in young children may develop insidiously and may abate spontaneously. 
The following symptoms may occur:

  1. Gastrointestinal – anorexia, sporadic vomiting, intermittent abdominal pain (colic) or constipation.
  2. Central Nervous System – behavior changes, hyperactivity, aggression impulsiveness, irritability, lack of interest in play, lethargy, development delays, reversal in verbalization, loss of motor skills, clumsiness, short attention span or leaning disabilities.
  3. Hematologic – anemic, pallor
  4. Cardiovascular – hypertension, bardycardia
  5. Encephalopathy may occur as toxic damage to the brain progresses – sudden onset of persistent vomiting; sever ataxia (loss of coordination), altered state of consciousness, coma, seizures or massive cerebral edema in younger children. Encaphalopathy rarely occurs in blood lead levels under 100 ug/dl.
  6. Nonspecific or vague symptoms include abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, anorexia, headache and fever.

What complications can occur from lead poisoning?

Severe and often permanent mental, emotional and physical impairment can result from lead poisoning. In addition, neurological deficits such as learning disabilities, mental retardation, seizures and Encephalopathy may occur.

Are all Dwelling units Regulated for lead?

No. Only pre-1950 rental dwellings and, rental dwellings built between 1950-1978. Owner-occupied dwellings are not regulated.

When are inspections required?

Inspections are required following performance of risk reduction work in rental housing, or at the time of turnover prior to reoccupancy.

Could more than one inspection be required?

Yes. Since the maintenance of a dwelling unit can change, the law requires that the condition of the unit be verified at each turnover. If a unit is determined to be lead-free, then only one inspection is required. Inspections must be performed by an independent accredited inspector.

Can a Maryland property owner obtain lead-free status and be exempt from the risk reduction standards?

Yes. New legislation (House Bill 16 passed in the 1996 Session of the General Assembly) provides two procedures for exempting a property from the requirement to meet risk reduction standards. They are: (1) no lead paint (except factory applied coatings) on exterior or interior painted surfaces; or (2) no lead paint on interior painted surfaces and no chipping, peeling, or flaking lead paint on exterior surfaces.

What are the professionals who are involved in a lead project in Maryland?

Contractors

There are three general categories of lead paint contractors: (1) those who work on residential, public, and commercial buildings, (2) those who work on steel structures and superstructures, and (3) those who perform inspections.
A lead paint contractor may apply for accreditation by submitting an application, with the required fee, to the MDE Environmental Lead Division. A contractor must employ only qualified individuals to provide lead paint services. An inspection contractor must also submit protocols for MDE approval.

Workers

Lead Paint Abatement Workers – include painters, carpenters, and other trades, who have successfully completed 2 days of training and are qualified to work on residential, public, and commercial lead paint jobs.
Structural Steel Workers – have completed at least one day of training and are qualified to remove lead paint from steel structures and superstructures such as bridges and water storage tanks.

Supervisors

Lead Paint Maintenance and Repainting Supervisors – provide oversight for activities involving the in-place management of lead paint in residential, commercial, and public buildings. The two-day training course also includes instruction in the replacement of windows which have lead paint.
Lead Paint Removal and Demolition Supervisors – may provide oversight for any lead paint-related work, including major renovation or lead paint abatement projects, as well as more limited maintenance and repainting projects, on residential, commercial, and public buildings. Four days of training are required.
Structural Steel Supervisors – provide oversight for lead paint activities on steel bridges, water tanks, and industrial structures. Four days of training are required.

Inspectors

Lead Paint Inspector Technicians – are qualified to use lead paint detection equipment and to sample paint and dust for laboratory analysis. Three days of training are required.

Lead Paint Visual Inspectors – are qualified, under state law, to conduct inspections of rental housing to assure that risk reduction treatments conform to statutory standards. Two days of training are required.

Lead Paint Risk Assessors – are experienced inspectors who have completed an additional two-day training course. Risk assessors interpret information and provide advice regarding possible sources of lead exposure.

Training Providers

Training Courses – are accredited by the State of Maryland based on the submission of a satisfactory curriculum, the use of accredited instructors, and passing an on-site audit by MDE.

Instructors – must complete relevant training courses, have appropriate experience, and pass an examination to become accredited. Individuals who are recognized as experts in certain specialties may contribute to courses conducted by accredited instructors.