Los Angeles homebuyers: Be aware of the dangers of lead-based paint

Making the decision to buy a new home is a big step and often the largest purchase an individual will make during his or her lifetime. Homebuyers have an expectation that the people selling the house will disclose any significant defects, particularly those that could harm them or their children. Unfortunately, people do not always abide by the law and fail to disclose material defects in the home.

Some defects are particularly harmful to children, and, if not disclosed, could cause serious health problems for youngsters living in the home. For instance, houses with unsafe levels of lead - often found in lead-based paint - can result in children suffering from serious illnesses.

What are the dangers of lead poisoning?

Children are particularly susceptible to the hazards caused by lead exposure. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that around 535,000 children in the United States could suffer permanent damage as a result of lead exposure. Health officials report that the level of lead considered safe for children is 5 micrograms per deciliter of blood; however, experts have long noted that any level of lead exposure can be harmful for children.

When children are exposed to harmful levels of lead, they can suffer from a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Behavioral problems
  • Loss of IQ
  • Difficulty in school

In addition, they can suffer from different physical symptoms, such as weight loss, fatigue, vomiting and abdominal pain, according to the Mayo Clinic. Unfortunately, once these symptoms are identifiable, the child has generally already been exposed to dangerous levels of lead.

Los Angeles homeowners must disclose the presence of lead-based paint

In Los Angeles, people who are selling their homes must inform potential buyers of the presence of lead on the property. The Residential Lead-Based Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 governs this requirement. Lead-based paint is the focus of section 1018 of the law, which requires homeowners to disclose the presence of lead-based paint in the home.

This requirement is applicable primarily to houses built prior to 1978. In most cases, paint used in residential homes that was made before 1978 contained lead. Even if a home does not appear to have chipped or peeling paint, the presence of lead-based paint alone can be damaging to children. For instance, even a small amount of dust caused from opening or closing a window can be harmful for young children in the home.

Homeowners can be held responsible for failing to disclose the presence of lead-based paint. If you are faced with such a situation, consulting with a skilled real estate attorney will ensure your rights are protected.