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by Alliance Environmental · December 21, 2014

3 Types of Lead Paint Testing to Consider

If your home or apartment building was built before 1978, there's a possibility that it could contain lead paint. Lead paint was commonly used up until the federal regulations banning it went into effect in 1978 due to health concerns.

So if you’re a homeowner or the property manager or owner of a residential property that could contain lead paint, lead paint testing is essential in order to protect the home’s tenants.

There are a few different ways of doing a lead paint testing:

Lead-Based Paint Inspection

A lead-based paint inspection involves testing painted surfaces for the presence of lead paint. This kind of testing is typically done before a renovation, remodeling or repainting project starts, since these types of projects can stir up lead paint particles. These inspections are usually done on all painted surfaces inside and outside the home, including the following:

  • Built-in cabinets
  • Walls
  • Ceilings
  • Baseboards
  • Chimneys
  • Siding
  • Porches
  • Door trim

Lead-based paint inspections typically don’t include testing the property’s soil or water. This type of testing mainly lets you know if a home contains lead-based paint and where it is, but it won’t provide you with information on whether or not it poses a risk. That requires additional testing.

Risk Assessment

A risk assessment is done to determine if there are any lead-based paint hazards inside or outside a home, such as determining if there are paint chips or lead in the soil or water. This type of testing can identify where these hazards are and how severe they are. Risk assessments usually include the following:

  • Looking for chipped paint in and around the home
  • Having chipped or deteriorated paint surfaces tested
  • Collecting samples of dust inside the home from certain locations, such as a child’s bedroom
  • Taking soil samples from the yard or other areas outside the home
  • Testing the home’s water supply

Risk assessments provide valuable information about lead-based paint hazards, but they do have limitations. One drawback is that not all paint surfaces are tested for lead. Only ones that show signs of chipping are tested.

The other consideration to keep in mind is that risk assessments don’t identify areas of potential hazards that could develop later on. Only current hazards are determined.

Lead Hazard Screen

A lead hazard screen is generally used in homes that have a low risk of having lead-based paint hazards. It’s a more limited type of risk assessment that includes the following:

  • Testing paint surfaces that are chipped or deteriorated
  • Collecting dust samples from floors and windows
  • Taking a soil sample if paint chips are found in the soil

Lead hazard screens will either show that there are most likely no lead-based paint hazards present or that a thorough risk assessment should be done. This type of testing is usually done in homes built after 1960 that are in good condition overall and have little deteriorated paint.

Combination Testing

Combination testing is usually done when a home is believed to have a high risk of lead-based paint hazards, such as if it’s in poor condition, or if the home’s occupants include young children or a pregnant woman.

This typically includes having an inspection done along with a risk assessment, which lets homeowners know if there are any lead hazards in the home.

Exposure to lead paint chips can cause behavioral problems, anemia and other health issues in young children and also increases the risks of premature birth and fetal growth problems in pregnant women. And these are just a few of the reasons why it's important to make sure you've tested your property for lead paint exposure possibilities.

Download a free copy of our Asbestos, Lead Paint & Mold eBook to learn how to mitigate the liability risks associated with common environmental threats found in residential properties.

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