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All About Lead
What is lead?
Lead is a heavy, low melting, bluish-gray metal that occurs naturally in the Earth's crust. However, it is rarely found naturally as a metal. It is usually found combined with two or more other elements to form lead compounds.
Over the years, lead has been mixed with gasoline and with paint, used as solder for cans and for copper pipes, as piping for drinking water, blended with vinyl and with brass, employed as protective shielding against radiation and in the manufacture of batteries and computer components.
Why is lead a problem?
For thousands of years, lead has proven to be a very useful substance. For nearly as long, we have also known that exposure to lead causes serious adverse health effects. Lead turns up in our yards, shows up in our homes, and ends up in our landfills. It is a powerful neurotoxin, which means exposure can damage the brain. It can also injure other soft tissues and organs, can interfere with the formation of blood, and exposure to enough lead can even kill. Both children and adults are vulnerable to lead’s health effects.
What is the District Government doing about it?
- DDOE Strategic Plan for Lead-Safe and Healthy Homes [PDF]
- Enforcing the District's lead laws to keep housing and child-care facilities safe.
- Promoting lead screening of all children under age 6 in the District. [PDF]
- Working with the families of children whose blood tests show elevated levels of lead
- Helping property owners and contractors to comply with the District's lead laws.
- Providing free replacement of windows and doors for residents who qualify.
- Upcoming Regulatory Trainings
What can I do about it?
- Use a filter to remove lead from water you use for drinking or cooking.
- Use lead-safe work practices [PDF] (English and Español) when disturbing paint during home repair or maintenance.
- Get your soil tested if you have a home vegetable garden.
- Dispose of old electronics properly (Department of Public Works).
- Get trained to conduct lead-based paint activities.
- Lead-Based Paint Applications and Forms
- Certification Exam Schedule
Who can I hire?
The following list consists of the individuals and business entities certified by DDOE to conduct lead-based paint activities in the District of Columbia. Their presence on this list does not represent a statement about the quality of their work.
Lead-Based Paint Consultant Companies [PDF] (Lead inspections, risk assessment and air monitoring.)
In order to obtain a lead abatement permit, the lead abatement supervisors or lead-based paint abatement companies must have appropriate documentation such as liability insurance, DCRA Basic Business License, etc.
For more information, read the lead abatement permit requirements.
Abatement Workers [PDF]
Lead Risk Assessors [PDF]
Abatement Supervisors [PDF]
Lead Project Designers [PDF]
Where can I get more information?
- Water Sampling Results for District Schools [PDF]
- Tenant Rights Under the District's Lead Law [PDF] (English, Español)
- District's Lead Law (English, Español) [PDF]
- Disclosure and Instruction Forms [PDF] (English, Español)
"Renovate Right!" Tip Sheet for Preventing Lead Exposure
(English and Español) [PDF]
- What You Need to Know About Lead Poisoning (English, Español, Chinese) [PDF]
- Key Contacts and Additional Resources
- District Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Lead Safe Washington DC