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LEAD BASED PAINT
  About Lead Paint Testing Remediation  


The Title X Act of 1992 requires that sellers of any home built prior to 1978 provide buyers with a lead based paint disclosure statement and the EPA pamphlet titled "Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home". Older homes built before 1950 are going to be more likely to contain lead based paint. As was the case with asbestos, lead based paint becomes a health hazard from long term exposure. It is not considered to be a health hazard if it is in good condition. The main concern is with peeling and chipping paint and wear dust being consumed by young children who are more susceptible to the health hazards because of developing organs and the practice of putting everything in their mouths.

If lead based paint is present in a home, it is normally found as wear dust around windows and window sills, doors and door frames, stairs, railings and banisters. On interior surfaces, it is found on trim and floors (gloss paint). Normally, flat wall paint does not contain lead. On the exterior of the home, it can be found in the form of peeling and chipping siding paint and also in the soil. You can not tell if it is lead based paint simply by looking at it. The material needs to be tested for lead content.

An inexpensive lead based paint test kit is available at most hardware stores and is the easiest way to check for lead content. The testing procedure is a simple matter of cutting a notch in the suspected area and dabbing a special applicator in the notch and observing the color reaction. Another method is to collect paint chips and send them to an approved lab or your local health department. Additionally, an EPA approved lead based paint contractor can be hired to perform either a paint inspection or a risk assessment on the home to identify actual or potential lead based paint hazards.

The inspection process takes samples of every painted surface in the home to analyze for lead content or uses a portable x-ray fluorescence machine as a non-destructive alternative. This procedure will only tell you the percentage of lead content for areas tested. It will not tell you whether the paint is a hazard or how to deal with it. A risk assessment analyzes the home for any sources of serious lead exposure and also tells you what actions to take to address these hazards. The cost of both of these procedures runs approximately $250-$500. Always hire a professional EPA qualified contractor for testing and abatement.


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Methods of dealing with lead based paint include encapsulation with fresh paint, polyurethane, vinyl wall paper, vinyl flooring, new siding, etc. This is an interim control, considered to be a temporary fix as these surfaces will not stay new forever as chipping, peeling or abrasion will occur at a later date. A better solution is to remove the lead hazard by hiring an approved abatement contractor who can remove, seal, or enclose lead based paint with special materials. This is an expensive alternative which could cost several thousand dollars.

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