Lead is widely recognized as a poison that is particularly harmful to children, resulting in a lowering of intelligence, among other harmful health effects. The biggest source of lead poisoning comes from deteriorated lead paint, as the resulting dust is easily ingested.   Lead paint is most prevalent in homes built before 1978, owing to a lowering of the limit in paints and coatings that year to 0.06% (600 ppm) by the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commision).

The Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act (“Title X”), passed in 1992, defined lead-based paint as any surface or coating having a concentration of lead of 1.0 mg/cm2 or 0.5wt% (5000 ppm) or greater and required government agencies (EPA, OSHA and HUD) to develop rules for working with lead. It also allowed prospective home buyers a 10-day period for arranging a lead inspection or risk assessment on a property.

Because renovation activities in homes with lead paint are a significant and continuing cause of childhood lead poisoning, the EPA recently imposed the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule, effective April 22, 2010, requiring renovators to be certified and follow specific work practices when disturbing lead-based paint in homes built before 1978.  

Lead Inspector/Assessors, certified at either the State level (e.g., CDPH for California) or Federal level (e.g., EPA, in some states) perform a number of services associated with lead-based paint:

Lead Inspections are carried out to determine the presence and specific location of lead-containing paint or coatings, either as part of a risk assessment, or prior to a proposed renovation project. This work is carried out according to HUD guidelines using a field-portable X-Ray Fluorescence analyzer. Accuracy is ensured by calibration and checking against NIST standards for lead paint (e.g., SRM 2579a set). A confirmatory lab test may be used in some cases to resolve an equivocal result.

Risk Assessments, designed to evaluate if the presence of lead paint presents a hazard, take into consideration such factors as the state or condition of the surfaces, where the lead is located, probable extent of exposure and the age of the occupants. Risk assessments involve sending dust and, when appropriate, soil samples to an accredited laboratory in the EPA’s NLLAP list.

Clearance Inspections are similar to risk assessments, carried out immediately following RRP (Renovation, Repair and Painting) work, to ensure the area is safe to move back into.  This involves a visual inspection followed by dust wipe sampling to check for the presence of lead dust.  The samples are sent to an accredited lab for a wet-chemical analytical method (e.g., AA, Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy).  

See the Lead Inspection page for a description of our services.