How to Know If It’s Lead Paint

How to Detect Lead Paint in Your Home

Not every home built before the late 1970s contains lead paint. However, the older the home, the greater the odds that it may have lead-based paint somewhere throughout.

Even if a home does contain lead-based paint, if the condition of the paint is in fairly good shape, meaning there’s no obvious peeling or chipping, the paint isn’t considered a top priority health hazard overall. But, if you intend to do some remodeling in your older home, it’s very important to know if the paint has any lead in it so you can take the appropriate precautions to ensure your safety.

Note: The only real way to determine if a home contains lead paint is to have it inspected.

What Does a Lead-Based Paint Inspection Involve?

Basically, there are three different kinds of testing techniques that experts use in order to determine if lead-based paint exists in a home.

1. Lead Paint Inspection

A lead paint inspection will discover whether or not any lead-based paint exists on any surface regarding your home both inside and out. It’s especially useful before renovating an older home whether you intend to remove old paint or repaint.

The inspector will assess every painted surface in the home, including any that are covered by wallpaper. Samples are taken and subsequently tested and either sent to a lab that’s recognized by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) or tested on-site using a portable XRF (X-ray fluorescence) device. The XRF is designed to measure the amount of lead in paint without causing it any damage and offers a quick way to determine if a painted surface is either negative (no lead) or positive (presence of lead). However, if the results are inconclusive, samples of paint measuring 1-4 square inches are removed and submitted to a lab for analysis.

The official report following an inspection will accurately identify which painted surfaces contain lead paint. However, the report won’t specify the actual condition of the paint itself or if it’s a health risk in general.

2. Lead Paint Risk Assessment

A risk assessment will find deteriorating paint within a home and then determine the extent as well as the cause for the deterioration. Next, the deteriorated paint is then tested along with any painted surfaces that appear as if a young child or pet has been licking or biting them. Painted surfaces aren’t tested if they’re in good condition. Also, a risk assessment will test the soil outside near play areas as well as the home’s foundation in addition to evaluating household dust from the interior. Dust samples are typically collected from windows and floors using a wet wipe and then sent along with the paint samples to be analyzed in a lab.

3. Lead Paint Hazard Screen

A hazard screen is very similar to the way a risk assessment is conducted, but not nearly as extensive. Usually, a hazard screen is generally performed in homes with a low risk of potential lead hazard. The assessor will inspect a number of areas for any signs of deterioration and also collect two dust samples, one from the windows and the other from the floors. Soil samples aren’t typically collected unless the assessor detects solid evidence of paint chips within the soil. The screening will also identify the likelihood of any present risk as well. If the likelihood is somewhat high, his report will suggest performing a risk assessment.

Can I Perform a DIY Inspection for Lead Paint?

It’s strongly recommended by the EPA that lead paint testing is performed by either a certified lead risk assessor or a certified lead inspector to ensure the safety of the home and its occupants. However, home kits for lead testing are available. These types of kits use certain chemicals that change in color in order to detect the presence of lead. Although they’re considerably less expensive than hiring an assessor to inspect the home, their accuracy is somewhat questionable. Also, they can’t offer all the details that a risk assessment or inspection can provide.