Original houses in Arlington were brick ramblers, colonials and cape cods and it’s safe to assume at some point lead based paint in Arlington homes were used, as most of the original houses were built during the 1950s. The EPA guidelines show that lead based paint was banned in 1978 and now any home that is sold or rented and was built prior to 1978 requires a Lead Based Paint Disclosure (this applies in all 3 areas – VA, DC and MD). Sellers are required to disclose that the house was built prior to 1978 and that the presence of lead paint may be present. If sellers KNOW or have any reports, they also must disclose that to a buyer or tenant and provide a copy of that report.
Now, how does that actually work in practice in our day to day life in trading real estate?
Yes, everyone knows that at some point, lead based paint was used in the house. Since then it’s likely been painted over several times and/or renovated walls with newer drywall removing the harmful lead from the house.
The areas you don’t think of are windows (both interior and exterior frames), door frames, baseboards, molding, etc. There are requirements now that if you own a home that was built prior to 1978, you are required to hire a contractor who is EPA certified to do and repairs to minimize the damage from potentially exposing lead paint (both airborne and paint chips). Keep children and pets away from exposure by limiting their contact with the area.
I have found most people don’t actually want to do a paint test. Chances are, it’s going to test positive anyway.
For more information on the dangers of Lead Based Paint as well as information on removing the threat, read the detailed guide from the EPA.