The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has reported that lead poisoning is "the number one environmental threat to the health of children in the United States." The most recent survey information available1 indicates that 4.4% of all U.S. children aged 1-5 (930,000 children) have levels of lead in their blood that equal or exceed the threshold level of concern established by the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The prevalence of elevated blood lead levels, while down from an overall 8.9% just a few years ago,2 remains disproportionately high among some groups, such as children living in large urban centers (5.4%) or in low-income families (8.0%), and among non-Hispanic black children nationwide (11.2%). The highest prevalence of elevated blood-lead levels reported (21.9%) occurs among non-Hispanic black children living in housing built before 1946.
Most lead-poisoned children have been exposed to dangerous levels of lead in their own homes. This booklet has been developed to assist families who rent their homes in protecting their children from lead poisoning. As a renter, you may have less direct control over conditions in your home that may cause lead poisoning than do those who own their own homes, and less knowledge of materials used, renovations performed, etc. To safeguard your children from lead poisoning, you need to know the potential for lead exposure in your rental home, what you should do, and what your landlord may be obligated to do. You should be on the lookout for lead hazards and for ways you can reduce or avoid those hazards. Your children's risk of lead poisoning depends a great deal on whether the apartment or house you rent has any lead hazards, how severe those hazards are, what you are able to do to reduce and control the hazards, and what your landlord does.