As with asbestos, lead should be sealed in and not disturbed.
Lead was commonly used in domestic broadwall and enamel paints until the early to mid-60s but was removed by industry agreement. Strangely, the addition of lead to paints was not legislated against until about 3 years ago. Lead remained as an additive in some metal and wood primers until the early 1980s. In repainting my late 1960s-built house I recently discovered red lead primer on the exterior of my windows.
Lead is highly toxic and can cause intellectual and physical impairment and is particularly noxious to kids.
In earlier times white lead was used as face makeup by women so it was no wonder the use drove them mad! (Except milliners who were driven mad by the use of quicksilver – mercury – as decorations on hats hence the term “mad as a hatter”.) hat reduces the lead to a dust. Lead is absorbed through the skin as well as the mucous membranes in the throat and lungs. Similarly you should not use a hot air gun to strip lead as this risks creating airborne lead oxide. If you need to remove lead-based paints use paint strippers which create a slurry and dispose of the slurry carefully.
The consequences of lead poisoning can be devastating and life-long.