Lead Paint Testing
Although lead paint has not been used in homes since 1978, prior to it being banned, it was used on more than 38 million homes and buildings. Federal law now requires that specific practices are followed when any contractors are working in homes or other buildings that were built before 1978 to avoid lead contamination. Lead contamination is spread by lead paint chips and dust can be a serious health hazard, especially to young children and even can pose a health hazard to babies before they’re born. The greatest health hazard is posed by the dust since it is so easily inhaled and it can lead to learning disabilities, behavioral problems and decreased cognitive development. If you suspect lead paint was used on your home, contact CSI to test the paint on your property. Our technicians are lead paint test experts and can ensure that your family is safe from the hazards caused by lead contamination.
Lead Paint… So what’s the big deal?
- Invisible lead dust is just as hazardous as paint chips.
- This dust can be created by friction – the opening of windows or the rubbing of a tight door.
- Most children are poisoned by ingesting household dust that contains lead.
- Many children are poisoned during home renovation work that generate lead dust.
Facts About Lead
- FACT: Lead exposure can harm young children and babies even before they are born.
- FACT: Even children who seem healthy can have high levels of lead in their bodies.
- FACT: You can get lead in your body by breathing or swallowing lead dust, or by eating soil or paint chips containing lead.
- FACT: You have many options for reducing lead hazards. In most cases, lead-based paint that is in good condition is not a hazard.
- FACT: Removing lead-based paint improperly can increase the danger to your family.
- FACT: Lead can affect children’s brains and developing nervous systems, causing reduced IQ, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems. Lead is also harmful to adults.
- FACT: Lead in dust is the most common way people are exposed to lead. People can also get lead in their bodies from lead in soil or paint chips. Lead dust is often invisible.
- FACT: Lead-based paint was used in more than 38 million homes until it was banned for residential use in 1978.
- FACT: Projects that disturb lead-based paint can create dust and endanger you and your family. Don’t let this happen to you. Follow the practices described in this pamphlet to protect you and your family.
Are you renovating, repairing or painting a home, child care facility or school built before 1978?
Beginning April 22, 2010, federal law requires that contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb more than six square feet of paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and trained to follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.
Are you planning to buy or rent a home built before 1978?
Many houses and apartments built before 1978 have paint that contains lead (called lead-based paint). Lead from paint, chips, and dust can pose serious health hazards if not taken care of properly.
Federal law requires that individuals receive certain information before renting or buying a pre-1978 housing:
LANDLORDS must disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before leases take effect. Leases must include a disclosure form about lead-based paint.
SELLERS must disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before selling a house. Sales contracts must include a disclosure form about lead-based paint. Buyers have up to ten days to check for lead hazards.
Percentage of Homes Likely to Contain Lead
- 24% – Between 1960 – 1978
- 69% – Between 1940 – 1960
- 87% – Before 1940
Where Does the Lead Come From?
Dust is the main problem. The most common way to get lead in the body is from dust. Lead dust comes from deteriorating lead-based paint and lead-contaminated soil that gets tracked into your home. This dust may accumulate to unsafe levels. Then, normal hand to-mouth activities, like playing and eating (especially in young children), move that dust from surfaces like floors and windowsills into the body.
Home renovation creates dust. Common renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips.
Proper work practices protect you from the dust. The key to protecting yourself and your family during a renovation, repair or painting job is to use lead-safe work practices such as containing dust inside the work area, using dust-minimizing work methods, and conducting a careful cleanup, as described in this pamphlet.
For Property Owners and Property Managers
Federal law requires that individuals receive certain information before renovating six square feet or more of painted surfaces in a room for interior projects or more than twenty square feet of painted surfaces for exterior projects in housing, child care facilities and schools built before 1978. You must, before beginning work, provide tenants with a copy of EPA’s lead hazard information pamphlet Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools (PDF) (11 pp, 1.1MB) | en español (PDF) (11 pp, 2.4MB). Owners of these rental properties must document compliance with this requirement; EPA’s sample pre-renovation disclosure form (PDF) (1 pp, 53K) may be used for this purpose.
You have the ultimate responsibility for the safety of your family, tenants, or children in your care. This means properly preparing for the renovation and keeping persons out of the work area. It also means ensuring the contractor uses lead-safe work practices.
Also, beginning April 2010, federal law requires contractors that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities and schools, built before 1978 to be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. Therefore, ask to see your contractor’s certification.
Contractors are required to provide you with a copy of the EPA pamphlet before beginning work. A sample pre-renovation disclosure form is shown later.
It’s the LAW!!
Testing for Lead in Paint
- To thoroughly analyze the paint in your home, each different painted surface should be tested.
- Different paints may have been used on walls, window frames, doors, and so on.
- Paints may also differ from room to room.
- Each of your home’s painted surfaces, both inside and outside, should be tested separately.
3 primary methods to test for lead paint
- Do-It-Yourself Swab Test
- Paint Chip Destruction Method
- XRF (X-Ray Flourescence) Analyzers
Professional testing for lead in paint is recommended.
Do-It-Yourself Swab Test Kits
What are Lead Swabs? They are chemical filled applicators that the user rubs on an area to check for lead. If lead is present the applicator tip changes color. These kits are relatively inexpensive, provide quick results, and are widely available at retail hardware and home improvement stores.
How do Lead Swabs work? There are a number of different products on the market, and procedures for their use vary. Most contain a chemical (either rhodizonate or sodium sulfide) that changes color in the presence of lead.
My home was built before 1978. Should I use Lead Swabs to see whether my home has a lead problem? Federal agencies do not recommend using Lead Swabs as the basis for making decisions about lead in paint, soil, or dust.
Paint Chip Destruction Method
Laboratory testing of paint samples involves removing samples of paint from each surface to be tested, usually from an area of about two square inches. Samples are sent to laboratories for analysis. This method leaves a bare spot on each surface tested.
An average house has 200 samples. Or 15-20 per room.
XRF (X-Ray Flourescence) Analyzers Procedure The ideal tool for lead analysis
X-ray fluorescence (XRF) uses portable detectors that X-ray a painted surface to measure the amount of lead in all the layers of paint. This type of testing is done in the home and disturbs little, if any, paint.