By Sean Lintow Sr.
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 LeadCheck™ system produced by Hybrivet. The general steps to test for lead in paint:
- If dirty, clean the surface with a household cleaner, rinse and dry.
- Cut a small V-shaped notch (about Â¼ inch long) to expose all painted layers down to the bare surface.
- Activate a LeadCheck™ Swab according to the instructions.
- Rub the activated Swab into the notch for 30 – 60 seconds.
- Examine the Swab tip and/or test surface for a color change to pink or red.
- *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.
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