Perform a Test for Lead Paint Yourself

PaintBrushandWhitePaintIn the early days, lead was added to paint to provide durability, the more lead the better the paint. Lead amounts in paint ranged from 10 to 50 percent. In the early 1950’s paint manufacturers started using less lead and in 1972 the Federal government began regulating lead content in paint and outlawed it completely in 1978.

Lead paint is generally not dangerous in its dried state adhered to the walls, but it becomes a hazard when it’s scraped off and ingested, or inhaled as dust. Lead is a highly toxic metal that can cause a range of health and neurological problems. Young children under six are especially susceptible, as lead can easily be absorbed into their systems and hinder the development of their brain and organs. Pregnant women are also at risk as lead can pass from the placenta and poison the unborn fetus.

To assuage concerns regarding lead paint in your home, you can hire a professional inspector who will provide a report of the lead levels in and around your home. They can often test soil and dirt and give on the spot lead paint results using a x-ray fluorescence machine. A cheaper alternative, though, is to do it yourself.

Testing Kit Options

Val Abrams, owner of Abrams Interior Painting is an EPA Certified Restorer® and is able to test, address, and safely remove any lead in your home or business should the need arise. However, if you choose, you can buy a DIY lead paint testing kit for $20-$40. There are only two widely available and EPA-approved kits: the Klean-Strip D-Lead Paint testing kit  (around $120) and the 3M Lead Check Swabs (around $25).

Both kits employs color change technology, to provide you with easy to read results in just a few minutes. The Klean-Strip kit is more expensive but is EPA-certified to test both hard (wood trim) and soft (drywall) materials. The color coded comparison on the Klean-Strip kit shows increments of lead amounts, whereas the 3M kit only shows lead positive or negative. The Klean-Strip kit has a shelf life, so make sure you check the expiration date before using it. The kit provides strips to ensure that it’s still valid.

Anytime you find or even suspect lead paint in your home, you should always call in a professional to test and remove the lead paint.

Parts of this article can be found at

Image courtesy of Simon Howden at

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