The use of lead paint in San Francisco began during Colonial times, and peaked in 1922. At the time, there was little knowledge of the danger of lead exposure and lead poisoning symptoms. Because lead paint was durable and washable, the interiors of many buildings and homes contained lead paint. By 1951, lead testing revealed the dangers of prolonged exposure to lead paint.
The first city to ban the use of lead paint was Baltimore, in 1951. By 1955, public health officials developed a national standard that allowed manufacturers to voluntarily limit their usage of lead in their interior paint. This caused a significant decline in the manufacture and use of interior and exterior lead paint throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1971, the government passed the Federal Lead Poisoning Prevention Act. It wasn’t until the late 1970s that lead surveys and lead paint testing confirmed that lead poisoning symptoms could be caused by exposure to household dust. In 1978, the federal government banned the consumer use of lead paint. Homes and buildings constructed prior to 1978 should undergo thorough lead surveys and lead paint testing to ensure that they are safe.