Should We Worry About Lead Paint?


    We’re negotiating a coop in a big prewar building and I’m wondering about lead paint. It seems like for a rental there are disclosure requirements. What about for a sale? The building is pre-war, so there’s obviously a risk that lead paint is present. The unit is renovated and doesn’t have any peeling paint. If we do find lead paint, what kind of ballpark are we looking at to abate it? We don’t have kids now but we plan to one day, and this is where we’d raise them.

    Thoughts? Thanks!

    PS. Yes … I did ask about engineering inspections earlier.

    PPS. We’re probably retaining our trusty attorney today so we’ll ask him, too. Promise.

    7 Replies

    1. When I purchased a prewar coop, I signed forms saying I knew of the hazard of lead paint.

      The building is not responsible, you are.

      As long as the paint is not peeling, and there is no lead paint around window and door jambs where surfaces rub against each other and create dust, and the apartment is currently covered in non-lead paint, you probably have nothing to worry about.

    2. It seems like such a minor thing to worry about.
      -unless you’re neurotic, then it’s major.

    3. yeah, as a parent of two small kids, I had the same concern. One interesting thing I learned, however, is that NYC requires parents to have their kids tested for the presence of lead paint (it’s a simple blood test). So any parent currently living in your building will have done the test and can tell you their kids’ results. I imagine that if anyone in the building had tested positive they would have brought it to the attention of the board, so it would be in the minutes…

    4. unless you have a slow kid who’s gonna eat it, there is nothing to worry about.

      and if your kid DOES eat it, there are lawyers out there who can get you millions and millions dollars. dont you see all those subway ads!?


    5. The alternative to likely presence of lead paint is new construction, and I would not assume a lack of toxic chemicals in new construction.

      You will find a lot of posts on this forum saying don’t worry about lead paint, but I think it’s foolish to underestimate the risks. You can be careful without being hysterical.

      There’s no reason you’ll be getting lead into the air/ your bodies unless the walls are peeling or unless you renovate. If/when you renovate you should just be very careful. If you have some plumbing leak (not uncommon in old buildings) the walls could peel, and you should take precautions at that time.

      We have a two year old and we’re painting our apartment now, so we’re staying at my mom’s until painting is done. Clean up will be careful, and we’re testing for lead paint as we go. So far, haven’t found any, and we’re in a pre-war.

      Good luck with the new place.

    6. all prewar buildings have lead paint. Unless somebody gut renovated it and replaced all windows, doors and covered walls with sheetrock. So I would go with assumption that there is lead paint somewhere. But rest of the new york has it as well. So I would not hiperventilate about it too much. It is not dangerous unless peeling.