If you live in an older house, take care around any cracking or flaking paint. Most paint from before 1960 contained significant amounts of lead, and lead-based paint was still in wide use until 1978. Lead can damage the brain, central nervous system, blood cells and kidneys. The Department of Health and Human Services has labeled lead the "number one environmental threat to the health of children in the United States."
Don't try to sand, remove or cut away cracked or flaking paint that might predate 1978. Contact a federally certified lead abatement specialist. For a list of specialists in your area and for more information, contact the National Lead Information Center.
Lead paint in good condition should be safe, and it can be sealed with a new layer of paint.
Interior paint maintenance is fairly straightforward, especially if the paint is applied properly, but older paint can be dangerous.