Demystifying Lead Paint: Fact & Resource Sheet

Published in Preservation Notes.

Providence is home to some of the oldest housing stock in the country, and along with the charm and character that these homes bring to our city, come unique challenges and risks to those who live in and work on older homes.

Lead paint represents one of the most significant of these risks, and concern about its presence is common. To help homeowners, renters, and landlords navigate these challenges safely and effectively, we’ve compiled some resources. Whether it’s preparing for a lead inspection, broaching questions with your landlord, or remediating your home, we’re here to help.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there lead paint in my home?

Lead paint can be found in most houses built before 1978 when it was banned nationally. If you rent or own a home built prior to 1978, it is the responsibility of the landlord or seller to disclose any knowledge they have regarding lead paint on the premises. It is estimated that 70% of Rhode Island homes possess some level of lead.

If you are unsure of whether or not your home contains lead paint, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officially recognizes three lead paint test kits that comply with the standards set by their Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program rules

Why is there lead paint in my home?

As the building process became more industrialized in the 19th and 20th centuries, the use of lead paint was largely encouraged by lead companies.

What are Rhode Island laws regarding lead paint in homes?

The RI Lead Mitigation Act requires pre-1978 homes to have an up-to-date lead certificate, which is typically renewed biannually.

The Rhode Island Property Maintenance Code dictates the allowable amount of lead in a given building and necessary remediation if a home is above that amount.

What financial assistance is available for the mitigation process?

RI Housing’s LeadSafe Homes program offers forgivable loans to assist in the process of ensuring your home is lead-safe.

Providence and Woonsocket have city-sponsored programs to assist individuals.

What is the difference between making a home “lead safe” and abatement?

Lead abatement is the process by which all lead is completely removed from the home — this can involve the replacement of windows and doors and it is often more costly than ensuring a home is “lead safe.”

Lead safety involves ensuring that any lead inside of a home is not an active risk factor for those living there. 

How do I make my home lead safe?

Online lead safety classes are offered through the Childhood Lead Action Project. When hiring a professional to do work involving lead, it is important to ensure they have a lead certification.

PPS is grateful to our experts who joined us to share their knowledge to help develop this FAQ and highlight some of the resources available.

Devra Levy with Childhood Lead Action Project
Gerald Markowitz, author of “Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children”
Noel Sanchez of Casa Buena Builders
Michelle Nuey the RI Housing Community Liaison/Lead Safe Homes Program

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