How do I know if lead paint is in my home?
Lead based paint has been used in hundreds of different household items from furniture to toys to the paint on the house. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, “about two thirds of all homes built before 1940 and one-half of the homes built from 1940 to 1960 contain heavily-leaded paint.” After more health problems were traced to the consumption of lead based paint, legislature began to develop against the use of lead in paint. In 1971 the first laws in the United States were implemented to regulate lead based paint until finally, in 1978 it was banned altogether.
Depending on what the situation is, there are several ways to find out if your home contains lead based paint. When buying or renting a new residence built before 1978, federal law states that new tenants be notified of any lead based paint. Real-estate sales contracts must include a specific warning statement about lead based paint. After receiving notice, buyers have 10 days to test for lead based paint. Finally, landlords must disclose known information on lead based paint and lead based paint hazards before the lease legally takes effect.
If you feel at risk, have small children or are pregnant, and simply want to know if lead based paint needs to be a concern, you need to have samples tested. Much like asbestos, only a lab analysis can determine the lead content of the paint. Sampling can be done by the homeowner or by a professional. Sampling paint and soil from your own home can be completed in a few short steps. Before beginning remember a few things. When testing paint, include every layer, lead is usually the deepest layer of paint. It is important to test areas where children spend a majority of their time since they are significantly more susceptible to lead exposure. Also, when sampling, test several different places like the window sill, base boards, doors, playrooms, etc. If you decide to sample on your own, the lab testing should cost about $25 each to analyze. These samples should only be sent to an accredited lab. The lab should have the results within 24-48 hours of receiving the sample. Be sure to keep a list of where samples were taken from.
When physically taking the paint samples from around the house, you will need is a zip-lock bag and a clean scraper. Take the clean bag and place it under the area you are attempting to sample. Use the clean scraper to extract one tablespoon of paint into the bag. Once again, remember to scrape as many layers of paint as is built up. Seal the bag and add a label. The label should say what part of the house the sample was taken.
Sampling soil is equally important as sampling rooms in the house. Parents of children know how much time is spent outside and how easily soil can wind up in a child’s mouth or get tracked through the house. Take another zip-lock bag along with a large spoon to sample the soil. Scoop half a cup of soil from the top inch of bare soil you want to test. Be sure that the sample does not include any other debris that may be in the dirt, unless there are paint chips which are allowed to stay in the sample. Once again, seal and label the bag, noting where the sample was taken from. Smart places to sample outside are directly by the foundation of the house, close to any traffic, or under children’s swing. Once all the samples have been taken, wash hands thoroughly.
Sampling can be done by the homeowner or a professional. A professional lead based paint inspection will result in a written report indicating where hazards exist. The inspection companies may use what is known as a portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) machine that gives immediate analysis or they may send paint samples to a lab for analysis. So, whether you take your own samples, or hire a professional it is important to know your risk for lead exposure in your home.
Contact Midwest Environmental Control for a free estimate. (419) 382-9200