The Ten Most Frequently Asked Questions About Lead-Based Paint

Why Should I Test My Home For Lead?
There are numerous reasons why you might want to test your home for lead especially if built before 1978:

  1. There are (or will be) children age six and younger in the home
  2. You are about to remodel, renovate, or repaint your home
  3. You are renting or buying a home

Why Is Testing Recommended For Houses Built Before 1978?
Federal regulations placed a limit on the amount of lead in paint sold for residential use starting in 1978. That is why homes built before 1978 may still contain lead paint. The older the home, the greater the chance of lead-based paint.Who Can Do Lead Testing For Me?

It is strongly recommended that testing be performed by a certified inspector or certified risk assessor.

  1. Certified inspectors can perform only lead-based paint inspections
  2. Certified risk assessors can perform both risk assessments and lead hazard screen

May I Abate Lead-Based Paint Hazards In My Own Home?
If you decide to abate lead-based paint hazards in your own home, it is not recommended that you do the work yourself. Abatement activities must be done by a certified lead-based paint contractor.

Are All Painted Surfaces In The Home Tested?
Not every single painted surfaces in the home will be tested, but all types of painted surfaces are tested. For example, a room may have three windows, all painted the same color and all made out of wood. Only one window may be tested, because they appear to be the same.

How Are Painted Surfaces Tested?
There are currently two methods recognized by EPA for testing paint:

  1. X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer
  2. Paint chips sampling, followed by analysis by an accredited laboratory

What Do The Results Of Paint Testing Mean?
XRF analyzer measurements indicate that:

  1. Lead-based paint is present
  2. Lead-based paint is not present

XRF measurements classify paint as lead-based when there is 1.0 mg/cm2 (milligram of lead per square centimeter of painted surfaces)

The laboratory report is expressed as weight of lead per weight of paint chip. The federal definition of lead-based paint is 0.5% lead or 5,000 milligram of lead per kilogram of paint chips.

How Are Dust Samples Collected And Analyzed?
The most common method for dust collection is a surface wipe sample. If dust is collected from a floor, an area of one square foot is usually sampled. The area is wiped several times in different directions to pick up all the dust. After sampling, the wipe is placed in a container and sent to an accredited laboratory for analysis.

What Do The Results Of Dust Sampling Mean?
Dust sample results are usually expressed as a weight of lead per unit area of surface. The unit will usually be micrograms of lead per square foot. For example, a floor wipe sample may be expressed as 50 micrograms of lead per square foot (50 µg/ft2). The certified lead-based paint professional will provide guidance in interpreting the results of the dust testing.

Where Can I Get Publications/Information About Lead-Based Paint?
For publications/information about lead-based paint, contact the National Lead Information Center (NLIC) at 1-800-424-LEAD or visit the EPA’s Lead webpage.