"Lead-based paint was extremely popular in the early and mid-20th century — used in an estimated 38 million homes across the U.S. before it was banned for residential use in 1978.
The risk didn't stop with the ban. Today, when older homes are renovated or repaired, contractors are required to take special precautions to avoid exposing residents to lead-laden dust and paint chips that are dangerous, especially to children and pregnant women. It's part of a broader set of environmental regulations meant to protect young people from lead exposure.
But an internal investigation by the federal watchdog for the Environmental Protection Agency finds that the EPA is not enforcing many of those requirements adequately.
The sweeping report by the EPA's Office of Inspector General says the agency does not have an "effective strategy" for enforcing rules that require contractors and other renovators to be trained and certified before they work on homes that have lead paint in them and that the agency is not keeping track of basic details that would help it know whether children are being exposed to lead-contaminated dust."