Don’t Trust Home Lead Test Kits

Posted on May 30, 2014 in Blog

A professional lead inspection is the most reliable way to detect lead paint hazards.

Lead TestLead poisoning is a serious health risk, especially for children. Exposure to lead can result in developmental issues in children as well as problems with the kidneys and nervous system. The most common source of lead contamination in American homes is lead paint chips and dust. Lead paint is most prevalent in homes built before 1978, because these homes typically have at least one layer of lead paint on them. Homes built later should not contain lead paint on structural surfaces because lead paint was banned in 1978. However, owners of new homes must still watch out for lead paint poisoning that could be caused by antique painted furniture.

The EPA has created a comprehensive set of guidelines called the Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule to assist property owners with dealing with lead paint. These guidelines include standards for lead testing kits to be used by homeowners.

The first set of standards require a home lead test kit to detect lead levels at or above 1 mg per square centimeter with 95 percent confidence and no more than 5 percent incidence of false negatives. Finding these standards not stringent enough, the EPA has drafted a new set of standards that requires test kits to also demonstrate that they do not give false positives at a rate of more than 10 percent. So far no manufacturer has developed a test kit to meet this stricter standard.

So, from this we can infer that the current home lead test kits on the market are unreliable because they give false positives at a rate greater than 10 percent. Is this the kind of reliability you would be satisfied with when the health and well-being of your family is at stake?

Another issue with the home lead test kits currently on the market is that not all of them are effective in detecting lead on all surfaces. Some work best on plaster and drywall while others work on wood, but none of them work on soil. And, of course, the test is subject to errors in administration by property owners.

If you really want the most reliable results possible from your lead paint testing, forget about the home lead test kit option. Instead, hire a company like H2 Environmental to facilitate professional sampling of all painted surfaces plus water and soil. We will have the samples tested in a qualified lab for a highly accurate and reliable result.

Another benefit of working with H2 Environmental for lead paint testing is that if the test comes back positive, we can immediately begin helping you to draft a plan for lead paint remediation and connect you with all the expert contractors you will need to get the job done right.