Lead was originally added to paint to speed up the drying process, maintain a fresh appearance and increase durability. However, lead paint is very hazardous and can cause nervous system damage, stunted growth, kidney damage and delayed development. Because of theses dangers, in 1978 the federal government banned consumer uses of lead-containing paint.
Peeling, chipping, chalking, cracking, damaged or damp lead paint is hazardous and will need immediate attention. Lead paint is especially dangerous when it is found on surfaces that children can get to, specifically windows and window sills, doors and door frames, stairs, railings, banisters and porches.
Check your home
If your home was built before 1978 it is recommended that you have a lead paint inspection. To get the job done right, consider hiring a contractor who can do both a paint inspection and a risk assessment.
Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency