EPA Approved RRP Testing Kits & Procedures

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lead testingBy Sean Lintow Sr.

SLS Construction Cullman County

First the facts, there are only 2 ways out of testing for lead in a house built before 1978; you either have in your hands a certified report from a licensed lead inspector that no lead is present in the area you are working on, or you automatically assume lead is present and follow all the containment and work rules issued by the EPA. (Article: Should you test or not)

As a CLR (Certified Lead Renovator) you only have one testing method available to you and that is to use a lead swab kit approved by the EPA. At this time, there are two approved kits, but only 1 is available to CLR’s. The second kit is only available to certified Massachusetts state lead inspectors and risk assessors. As more kits or manufacturers are approved they will be listed here: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/lead/pubs/kits.htm

The only generally available kit at this time is the LeadChecksystem produced by Hybrivet. The general steps to test for lead in paint:

Quote:

  1. If dirty, clean the surface with a household cleaner, rinse and dry.
  2. Cut a small V-shaped notch (about ¼ inch long) to expose all painted layers down to the bare surface.
  3. Activate a LeadCheck™ Swab according to the instructions.
  4. Rub the activated Swab into the notch for 30 – 60 seconds.
  5. Examine the Swab tip and/or test surface for a color change to pink or red.
  6. *If testing paint on commercial structures, (which may have lead chromate paint), wait several hours to check for color change.

The full steps are listed here http://www.leadcheck.com/PB-15Paint.shtml

Contrary to popular belief and most of our training, it can be used on plaster if you follow the manufacturers directions located here: http://www.leadcheck.com/PB-08Plaster.shtml – I do have an email sent into them to check on testing drywall

Speaking of bad training information, many people have reported that during training many trainers deemed the swabs as untrustworthy are not required to meet X standard. The standard they are slamming is the minimum standard that must be reached for approval. Just because a vendor is listed does not mean that they do not exceed those standards. Information on LeadCheck’s testing – http://www.leadcheck.com/3rdParty.pdf so you can decide for yourself if they are as bad as some insist.

The EPA is trying to allow the greatest amount of vendors a chance to develop and manufacture a valid testing kit for use and has phased in a two step process which can be found here http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/overview.htm. The second phase of testing and the approvals will be completed by September of 2010.

Have something to add? You can also discuss it on our forum.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Good article Sean. I tested this week with a kit, just to try the test kit and the tests were done in my 1957 built Ranch home.

    Results:
    Varnish on my original casings, 2 tests on jamb and casing + positive for lead.

    2 tests on wood floor, – no lead.

    I will be doing about 20 tests just to get used to the product.

  2. FOLLOW UP: per LeadCheck

    Plaster and drywall contain chemicals that can potentially block the LeadCheck color reaction with lead. Although this does not seem to be a problem in “real world” field test situations. I believe that the EPA is just taking a conservative approach by limiting LeadCheck recognition to 2 substrates (wood & metal). Even though the EPA does not recognize LeadCheck for testing paint on drywall and plaster – it does no harm for contractors to test paint on those surfaces with LeadCheck. If the Swabs turn pink (or red) the contractor knows that lead is present and would have to follow EPA regulations. The contractor cannot assume that lead is not present when the LeadCheck is negative due to the potential interference. Attached is a copy of the LeadCheck Applications note for plaster which describes the issue in a little more detail ( http://www.leadcheck.com/PB-08Plaster.shtml ) Link is in original post above

  3. I have been using Lead Check on plaster and drywall, and have had no qualms with this product, will continue to use in the future.

  4. HOW MUCH LIABILITY ARE YOU TAKING ON AS A CONTRACTOR, IF YOU TEST FOR LEAD AND DON’T FIND ANY BUT IN 3 YEARS TIME SOMEBODY ELSE TESTS FOR LEAD AND FINDS SOME, COULD YOU NOT BE TOTALLY LIABILE FOR THE COST OF REMEDIATION…..THE TEST KITS ARE NOT 100% REMEMBER!!!!

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