Photograph of old paint on a historic building, paint is likely to be a source of lead contamination on the soils below. How Should a Home be Checked for Lead Contamination Hazards?

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How to test for lead in the home or other building:

This article suggests where and how a home or other building should be tested for lead contamination hazards. To reduce the risk of lead poisoning attention is needed to more than just paint.

By offering simple steps to protect your family from lead poisoning, the original US CPSC document provided advice for reducing the risk of lead poisoning for families living in homes where lead exposure is suspected, likely, or where lead contamination is actually confirmed by testing. However that particular document omitted attention to lead contamination sources in buildings other than paint.

The original U.S. CPSC document is public domain. We have made additions to the technical depth of this article and we have added additional important detail about lead hazards - these are indicated by a [bracketed note in italics]. The additional text or commentary, website design, links, and references are independent material.

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How Should a Home or other Building be Checked for Lead Contamination Hazards?

While the original CPSC article focused on lead paint hazards (indeed a major source of lead contamination in some buildings), below we list additional potential sources of lead that should be considered. There is no doubt that no lead hazard list is exhaustive or therefore complete. Contact Us by email to suggest additions or corrections.

Suggestions for Checking a Building for Lead Based Paint

Just knowing that a home has lead-based paint may not tell you if there is a hazard.

You can get your home checked for lead hazards in one of two ways, or both:

  • A paint inspection tells you the lead content of every painted surface in your home. It won't tell you whether the paint is a hazard or how you should deal with it.
  • A lead paint risk assessment tells you if there are any sources of serious lead exposure (such as peeling paint and lead dust). It also tells you what actions to take to address these hazards.

Have qualified professionals do the work. The federal government is writing standards for inspectors and risk assessors. Some states might already have standards in place. Call your state agency for help with locating qualified professionals in your area (see below).

Trained professionals use a range of methods when checking your home, including:

  • Visual inspection of paint condition and location.
  • Lab tests of paint samples.
  • Surface dust tests.
  • A portable x-ray fluorescence machine.

Watch out: Home test kits for lead are available, but the federal government is still testing their reliability. These tests should not be the only method used before doing renovations or to assure safety.


Continue reading at LEAD TEST KIT for HOME USE or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.


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LEAD TESTS for the HOME at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

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