Lead paint flakes everywhere - Allow Client walkthrough?

Im inspecting a house as I type this. There are large and small paint chips surrounding the perimeter of the house. I hit it with a 3M lead check stick and its glowing red. I know lead is excluded. But clients plan to come in 2 hours. I dont want liabilities due to potential exposure to clients.

Would you allow your client to come? Let them come but require a N95 mask? (I would provide the masks)

Call them to alert them of the situation. If they can afford to purchase a home, they should be able to decide if they want to take on the risk. It’s their call, not yours!!


Be careful not to over-react to a situation. Inform them of the situation and let them decide if they want to visit the property. I believe there is very little risk to the buyer in entering the home and walking around the property if they know not to play with or ingest the paint chips on the ground. Are you thinking that is a real possibility?


With lead paint it is not an inhalation problem as much as ingestion. Children (infants), play in the lead dust and chips from poorly maintained paint and because they put things in their mouths (hands and toys) they end up ingesting the paint. Repeated ingestion causes developmental problems. Just don’t let your clients play on the floor!


Yep! I agree with Bert. Just tell them not to eat the paint chips that are laying around the house.


They’ll be ok as long as they don’t eat it. If they have small children tell them to keep them away from it.


It’s likely there are both chips, and dust everywhere.
Exposure from walking is likely small, but opening cabinets, dusting or vacuuming could make an exposure class.

The 8 hour RRP course is something took, and has been valuable:

The effect of lead on small children is well documented. The effect seems to lower with age:

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My advice…don’t eat the yellow snow…or the lead paint chips…


They are probably more prone to inhaling lead-based paint from watching you/us open and close old wood windows.


Good job catching this.
Lots of very bad lead paint practices out there: most notably sanding without dust collection prior to painting, which is almost as bad as not sanding and having the new paint peel off later.

The gold standard for lead paint testing is


Particularly the Silicon Drift Detector (SDD) XRF Guns.

These are expensive, require training, require periodic replacement of the active element, and oh, hey, are radioactive.

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From Flint to Detroit… lead issues all around. Detroit’s demolition program blamed for poisoning additional kids:

Here’s a nice conspiracy theory to chew on:

“Lead paint was banned, not because children were eating paint chips, but rather how well it absorbed RF/EMF radiation,” reads text of a Facebook post shared Nov. 22. "Why do you think you wear a lead vest whilst getting X-Rayed?

From Wikipedia:

As early as 1886, German health laws prohibited women and children from working in factories processing lead paint and lead sugar.[8]

The League of Nations began efforts to ban lead paint in 1921.[9][10]

The US is often a bit behind the curve with environmental regulation.

But perhaps lead paint will be back soon… it does last so long, really durable stuff.

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I am glad you posted here. This is an education moment. As nearly all here have responded, lead poisoning is the real deal and the highest risk of poisoning is from eating it. However, in the circumstance you are describing which is what we nearly always encounter as home inspectors, there are not enough free lead atoms floating in the air to come within a light year of being a health risk.
Advise your clients that we appear to have a lead-based paint concern in this house and abatement by a qualified professional is highly recommended. The concern is the peeling paint that children and silly adults might eat. My experience is that saying all of this with some humor drives it home more effectively than sounding like the grim reaper. I drive home hard that consuming lead is serious irreversible health risk, particularly for children. But walking around looking at the peeling paint is not a health risk.
We home inspectors see major concerns all the time, and should always be the voice of calm, reasoned, and knowledgeable advice.


Thanks for all the replies fellows. I ended up just calling the client before they were to head out and let them know we had indications of lead in paints chips surrounding the home and will provide masks to wear while your here. The came, didn’t want the masks and didn’t appear worried. However I did recommended verbally and in the report to have a certified lead based paint risk assessment, abatement or remediation contractor evaluate things. They seemed to like the house as it did have character even the neighbor that was 75 was telling me he grew up in the house.

If your clients have kids, the lead in the soil near the house could become a BIG issue.
Now’s the time to clean up the flakes, before the seller or Realtor covers them with mulch.

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Sounds like you acted reasonably and ethically. I think I would have done the same. I had a similar experience with mold growth throughout a home. It had a roof leak, and was left with no power for about 2 weeks!. I recommended limited exposure while I inspected, and I insisted their child not attend the inspection. The husband did attend, but no one else, and he was only inside for about 15 minutes, with a mask on.