Everyone knows that exposure to lead is bad for you. It can cause a list of problems to your health and especially damaging to children. If your home was built before 1978, there is a good chance it contains lead based paint. Lead based paint doesn’t become a health hazard until it becomes friable and starts to chip, crack, and flake or if you are planning a remodel and will disturb the surfaces with paint on them. A lead test is the only way to determine if you have lead based paint or not, but is an at home lead test kit worth it?

Lead Test Kits

At home lead test kits are meant to be a useful and quick way to get lead results. These tests are performed by scraping or peeling the paint before swabbing the area. To get the most accurate results, you’ll want to expose all of the layers of paint. If lead is the present, the rhodizonate test will turn pink, while the sulfide test will turn black. For the best results it’s a good idea to use both test. It’s important to note not all lead test kits are created equal and will not give the 100% accurate results. To find the best results possible, use the EPA-recognized tests.

Risks of False Negatives

Lab analysis by Flame Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (Flame AAS) yields a far more accurate result than a DIY test kit, even a kit that claims to detect lead at low levels. How do we know this? At JSE, side-by-side comparisons of EPA-approved DIY test kits v. Flame AAS were performed. It was found that paints with concentrations below 5,000 parts per million (0.05%) lead, yielded negative DIY test kit results while the more robust Flame AAS method was able to detect lead. Therefore, test kits can create not only health risks but liability risks for employers regarding worker protection. The Flame AAS analysis was demonstrated to be a superior test method as a result of this comparison.

Professional Lead Testing

A professional lead test is done by using a non-destructive machine called an XRF. XRF lead tester is the industry standard in testing for lead in paint. An XRF analyzer is the most accurate and fastest way to determine if your house has lead based paint or not. It can take an XRF just a couple of seconds to determine if there is lead in your paint or not. Although this type of test is more expensive than the lead test kit, it is undoubtedly more accurate, less intrusive, and more time effective.

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