Before you rent or buy a home in Virginia or any where in the U.S. built before 1978, you need to know your rights regarding lead based paints and the potential hazards. Lead can cause serious health problems for occupants, pets and even visitors to a property.
Although lead is naturally occurring and can be found in the earths crust, in homes is can be toxic to you, your children and your pets causing problems ranging from behavior and learning problems, anemia, slowed growth, premature birth, cardiovascular effects, kidney problems and reproductive issues. Lead accumulates in the body over time, but in young children and pregnant women it is particularly dangerous. Food, water and soil can be contaminated from lead and if your house has lead based paint when the windows and doors rub together it creates lead dust. If the paint is chipping or deteriorating it also creates the dust. The danger is not only if a child actually puts it in their mouth but by all the time children touch things and put their hands in their mouths.
Federal law requires an EPA approved pamphlet called "Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home" to be provided when buying or renting a home built before 1978. When purchasing, you also have 10 days to have a paint inspection from a certified inspector. As a renter you can ask your landlord to get a lead hazard inspection from a certified inspector before you sign a lease.
As a Realtor, I must let the sellers and renters know their obligations under the Real Estate Notification and Disclosure Rule. An agent would be responsible if a seller or lessor does not comply.
It is important to know the risks in order to prevent exposure to lead before it happens. To lower your risk of exposure in a home built before 1978 you can make sure to clean well and often especially around doors, windows, check for deteriorating paint, fix any water damage immediately, flush water and drinking outlets, only drink cold water, wash all children's toys and hands often and eat a healthy diet - people who eat healthily don't absorb as much lead.