Lead Testing?? CPSC states swab kits are not recommended

I just received a request from a past client to do some lead swab testing on some ceramic dishes she received as a gift. I went to EMSL and to PRO-LAB to look at the swab kits that are available. I then happened on this link from the CPSC. According to them, these swab kits are unreliable and not recommended.

I’m looking for some feedback so I can get back to my client. Thank you in advance for your comments!

I use the swabs, but I do not put anything in writing as to “having” or “not having” lead content. VERBAL ONLY.




so what is your disclaimer?


It’s in my Agreement, which the client signs…

CLIENT understands that the inspection will be performed in accordance to the aforementioned Standards, which contain certain limitations, exceptions, and exclusions. Environmental issues such as Asbestos, Lead, UFFI, Mold, Radon Gas, and Water pollutants, can not typically be fully identified and/or categorized by a visual inspection. Therefore, they are not part of my Basic Home Inspection. Your inspection was essentially visual, is not technically exhaustive, and does not imply that every defect was found. Latent and concealed defects and deficiencies are excluded from the inspection. (Examples: Structural revisions and Wood Boring Insect damage).

As I stated earlier, I do not annotate Lead findings in my report. I perform my spot check and I always manage to find lead paint in the older homes, but it’s not in writing.

If you read the CPSC staffers article, they poo-poo XRF technology as well.

The goal of eliminating all lead based paint from commercial and residential structures is, in my opinion, non-achievable.

The question remains as to the presence of lead-based paint products in or on these structures. Structures build prior to 1978 (and in some cases up to 1984 when lead was removed from commercal paint) likely have lead paint at some level. Whether it poses a health risk without lead paint dust, flakes, or peeling paint remains open.

When inspecting a residential structure built prior to 1978, I tell mycliets that lead-based paint was likely used, and exists at some level.

Our county health department makes lead swab test kits available to consumers at low cost. Absent of taking a sample and sending it to a lab, what’s a person to do on a RE transaction. Here in NY, one has 10 days to complete a lead investigation.

BTW… lead is still used in some industrial paint applications

Thanks for your help!

Massachusetts Lead laws

I’m glad I don’t live in MA! I thought Wisconsin was bad…:slight_smile:

Yea, the Lead Law is pretty tough here.

Almost every inspection I perform, I’ve got the RE agent asking the Buyer to sign disclaimers stating that the Lead content in the home they are about to purchase “IS UNKNOWN”.

Go figure. No one wants to get involved in a legal case where a child gets Lead Poisoning. I don’t blame them, at all.

In Wisconsin, there is a standard lead paint disclosure form that ever buyer acknowledges they receive. What astounded us was the fact that even though there was a disclosure signed buy the buyer (or tenant) the owner of the property could still be held liable if a child got sick.

I totally agree with full disclosure! But even with that, the owner could get sued because a parent was not diligent in their own duties??? That’s absolutely ridiculous IMHO!

What ever happened to personal responsibility in our country???

I do a lot of XRF work and dust wipes on a regular basis. I don’t know of a better device to measure LBP in ceramic dishes then the XRF. Being as that is a hi-temp fired glaze, test swabs would be of little use for lead detection on such a surface. Lead swabs are designed to mingle with the surface coating enough to show pink/red. This in no way quantifies the lead amount however, which is the weakness of swabs. Is it Positive or Negative? Is it under 1.0 mg/cm2 or under 40 ug/sq.ft. for dust? When you need to know, the XRF is the definitive yes or no.

As I see it, the danger comes from the regular use of lead tainted ceramic ware, in microwave ovens.