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How to Test for Lead Based Paint

Updated on October 30, 2012

It's no surprise that you want to test for lead paint. Lead paint can pose a hazard to people in many households, particularly to young children living in older homes. Lead paint testing is done to prevent problems associated with inhaling and consuming lead paint. But do you know why you want to do lead paint testing? You may just have a vague feeling that it's a good idea to test for lead paint, but you're going to need more information than that. That's because there are three different lead paint tests that you can do and choosing one will depend greatly on your reasons for wanting to do the testing in the first place.

The three different lead paint tests

  1. Lead-based Paint Inspection - This is commonly done in many older homes to give you an idea of whether or not you have cause for concern. The lead-based paint inspection assesses every painted surface inside and around your home, testing for levels of lead-based paint. Sections of each surface are taken for testing upon which a report is generated providing you with information about whether or not you have cause for concern.
  2. Lead Paint Risk Assessment - The assessment will give you a much more detailed analysis of the lead-based paint that you may have discovered during a lead-based paint inspection. It not only checks for lead-based paint but also assesses the type of paint, the risk of the paint's location and the amount of lead in the paint. This is done through a combination of methods including a survey of the surfaces, dust and soil testing, and possibly even water testing.
  3. Lead Hazard Screen - Perhaps you want to do more than just a lead-based paint inspection but don't think that you need a full lead paint risk assessment. The in-between option is a lead hazard screen which tests painted surfaces that appear to be damaged. It also tests a small dust sample from the home.

In order to do a lead-based paint test, you'll want to know which test you're interested in doing. If you are already fairly certain that there is lead-based paint in the home, you'll probably want to skip the inspection and go for one of the other options. You'll want to do a risk assessment if you have high-risk persons in your home such as toddlers who may be exposing themselves to lead-based paint through activities in the home.

Next, you'll want to decide if you're doing lead-based paint testing on your own or with the assistance of professionals. Lead-based paint testing is best done by professionals. This increases your chances of getting a correct response. It also decreases your risk of exposure during the testing. You can hire someone to do lead-based paint testing by searching through your local yellow pages or favorite online source. Since you already know what kind of test you want done, you're less likely to get sold services that you don't need. You can shop around to get the right price on the services that you do want.

If you're more of a DIY person and want to proceed with your own lead based paint testing, despite that this is not recommended, you have two options. The first is to purchase a lead-based paint kit and follow the instructions in the kit to check various areas of your home. The second is to collect dust and soil samples and have them sent in for lead-based paint testing. This can save on costs but may reduce the accuracy of findings.


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  • profile image

    Faye 4 years ago

    I was curious if you ever tghuoht of changing the structure of your site? Its very well written; I love what you've got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. You've got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or 2 pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

  • profile image

    nikashi_designs 5 years ago

    Public safety is always a concern...just wrote an article on stripping paint and was doing a bit of research on lead paint testing. Surprising how much lead paint is still kicking around. Anyway, thanks for the information and I will be placing the link to your Hub.

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    portable generato 6 years ago

    Such a useful hub. I love painting and you did point out great ideas very well. Great job here.

  • profile image

    Duromax Generator 6 years ago

    This is a great article. Keep up the good work of informing people about lead paint. Thanks

  • RedSturtz profile image

    RedSturtz 6 years ago from A land far far away....

    Interesting read, thanks.

    Another random fact I picked up from someone who used to do drug/alcohol screens is that alcohol stays twice as long in the body if you've been exposed to a lot of lead paint.

    People who worked as painters were often still positive for alcohol a day or two after a normal person would've had it clear their system.

  • HomerMCho profile image

    HomerMCho 6 years ago

    Such a useful hub. I love painting and you did point out great ideas very well. Great job here.

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    MEE 2 6 years ago

    Saw the comment from "No Lead Thanks"... I've tried the D-Lead Paitn Test kit, too, and it was easy to use. I got nothing but negative tests, so I used the verifdication strips (included) to make sure. This saved us the cost of having a professional do all the testing, and we did the whole house while we were at it. I recommend it, too.

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    Seb 6 years ago

    Thanks for a really timely and useful post. We are thinking of purchasing an old house I hadn't even considered the issues regarding lead in paint until I came across your hub. It is not something that seems to be on the radar that much this days.

  • The Jet profile image

    The Jet 6 years ago from The Bay

    This was very useful -- thanks.

  • profile image

    Ron 6 years ago

    This is a great article. Keep up the good work of informing people about lead paint. Thanks

  • profile image

    MilesBerry 7 years ago

    I didn't know there were 3 different tests. Good info!

  • profile image

    No Lead thanks 7 years ago

    There's a newer product that is the first lead paint test kit recognized by the EPA. It's called the Klean-Strip D-Lead Paint Test Kit, and it was easier and quicker than a lot of the others. Plus, it works on many different surface types. I got it at Home Depot.

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    sreeiit 8 years ago

    This has been a very useful post

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    sam wooooot 8 years ago

    Lead paint can be extremely dangerous, these tips are great.

  • sheryld30 profile image

    sheryld30 8 years ago from California

    This is very helpful. Thank you! :)

  • chantelg4 profile image

    chantelg4 10 years ago from Northern Ontario

    This is especially important when buying an older home. Good info!