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Testing for Lead-Based Paint

Updated on July 9, 2019
Kenna McHugh profile image

I have done extensive research in toxic housing and construction. I value my ability to share the information with others to save lives.

Lead paint is not an issue in newer homes. However, if your house was built before 1978, the chances are pretty good the paint contains lead. A home with lead-based paint is hard on the home owner's pocketbook.

Lead Paint

The problem with having lead paint in older homes is if you need to do repairs, remove wallpaper, or repaint your home, lead paint is considered a toxin that is regulated by the federal government. Expensive precautions need to be taken to remove the lead paint before improvements are made to the home.

Homes Built Before 1978

When was lead paint banned?

Lead poisoning in paint is not an issue in newer homes because any home built before 1978 contains lead. Now, don’t freak out and think all is doomed, and you need to pay out $10,000 for a HAZMAT crew to clean up your poisoning paint.

My house built, in 1954, was in desperate need of a new coat of paint.

I asked two professional painters to take a look at my house and let me know how much it would cost to paint the house. The first painter said my house most likely had lead in its paint and needed the lead paint test. He had a company he used, and the cost was around $175. The next painter was even worse. The next painter's estimate was even worse. He scared me to death with a $10,000 clean-up bill before my house will ever see new paint. The painter left with the bad news, and my husband and I looked at each other and started arguing about money problems.

Pointing fingers at each other and finding fault that we’re not millionaires. We acted crazy, and I realized the painter's information is what upset my husband and me. I decided to look at the situation myself, which saved us thousands of dollars.

Lead Paint Testing Kit

So, I took a deep breath and thought to myself determinedly, “I am going to research this issue with lead paint in older homes. There has to be an alternative.”

I needed to know does my home have lead in its paint. I didn't have to spend a lot of money all the better for all of us. With that, I did my research and discovered a lead testing kit at Home Depot for only $10.00. It is called 3M Instant Lead Check Test and comes in 2 swabs or 8 swabs packages. The kit is easy to use. If you are not sure how to use it when you bring it home, Home Depot has a video on their website on how to use the kit. The manufacturer of the test kit produced the video.

I bought the two swabs kit for $10.00 because that is the only size Home Depot had available at the time of purchase. Besides, I figured if one or two areas are hot (lead in paint), no need to test other areas. I did the math. I am saving money if neither area comes up hot. Then, I will decide if I should test other areas.

How to Use a Testing Kit

"We still have children suffering from lead's effects, but at least kids no longer convulse and die. If the New York City Board of Health had not banned the sale of lead paint in 1959, we would have experienced more generations of children with lead-caused severe brain damage."

— The Alantic "Why It Took Decades of Blaming Parents Before We Banned Lead Paint"

What Do You Think

Do you feel confident in using over the counter lead testing kits?

See results

No Lead Paint

I picked to areas to test. The areas had chipped paint around the exterior. The test results were negative, no lead. I was happy - it put a smile on my face. But, I decided to get another test kit and check two other areas around the exterior of the house. If they proved negative like the first two spots, I know we are relatively safe to prep and paint our home.

I went to our neighborhood hardware store, Hollywood Hardware, and purchased a different lead testing kit, First Alert Lead Testing Kit. Because the store is closer to my home, I thought it was a good idea to try a different test to make sure my house is lead-free. The kit offers four tests for $13.00. Not a bad price compared to the 3M test kit.

Removed Poisoning Paint

I tested two separate areas and, again, no lead. After that, I felt like I didn't need to test any other exterior areas.

I find it hard to believe that there is no lead paint on the exterior of my home. One of the prior owners most likely removed the lead paint.

Test is a Lesson Learned

It was a great relief for my husband and me not to have lead paint in our 1954 home. I am sure if I hadn't investigated the matter on my own, the situation would have been more expensive.

I still cannot believe what the one painter tried to scam us for thousands of dollars. He could have told us about the over the counter tests. But, I know he had dollar signs in his eyes and wasn't thinking about helping us.

I hope this is helpful to you and anyone you know who needs to check for the lead around a house, car, or wherever. These tests are ideal and very helpful.

© 2016 Kenna McHugh

Comments

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    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      3 years ago from Northern California

      Ecobond, Thank you for posting. Yes. That is true. But, first, one needs to test the home for the lead before even thinking about such a huge task.

    • profile image

      Ecobond 

      3 years ago

      Lead paint can now safely be sealed, treated, and or rendered non hazardous for disposal. ecobondlbp.com

    • Linda Robinson60 profile image

      Linda Robinson 

      3 years ago from Cicero, New York

      You bet. I enjoy all your amazing hubs and skilled style of writing. :) Take care. Talk with you again.

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      3 years ago from Northern California

      Linda, thank you for visiting and reading my hub. It is a concern all homeowners face with whether it's the house or other items with lead. The testing kits can be used on any surface.

    • Linda Robinson60 profile image

      Linda Robinson 

      3 years ago from Cicero, New York

      Good Morning Kenna This is a tremendous informative well detailed hub. And this is such a huge problem today. A very helpful hub and a must read for everyone that might move into a home with lead paint. You covered so much detail so thoroughly. Great writing, awesome hub.

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