Lead testing

I would like to inquire to inspectors that offer lead testing.

What type of testing do you do?

What training do you have or did?

What do you charge & how much do you make?

Any other info would help.



I have performed some Lead based paint testing as a request from clients during an HI. Pretty simple.

In most every state that I’m aware of you have to be licensed to do lead paint testing, etc. You first need to check with your state or the EPA or your state health / environmental department to see if licensing is required in your state. If its required and you aren’t licensed - you have huge liability & some poor sucker like me (in your area) who is licensed (took 3 day course, passed test, takes mandatory annual CE on it, and pays annual licensing fee, etc) will be happy to turn you in and file complaints with EPA, etc.

Dont want to mess with the EPA.

I was just actually audited by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the neighbors where wondering why the EPA was at my house.

There are many inspectors in the State of Ohio that offer lead testing & I know they are not licensed. I am not sure if lead requires an Ohio license but I will find out before I offer lead paint testing.


I recommend and only use XRF Testing for Lead Based paint assessments.


What is the cost of the XRF equipment???:shock:

If your state does not have its own Lead Regs, then it automatically falls under the EPA Lead Regs. The Lead-chek swabs are not recognized by any governing authority, as they lack quantification. You can have a little Lead and still be under the threshold value, and thus be “negative” for Lead even though it may be present. The swabs are intended more for the homeowner (or inspector) to help make the decision to call in the expert with the XRF. And finally, XRF equipment is very expensive to purchase (currently $30,000 for the new model Niton), and maintain (replace a 10 mCi isotope every 15 to 18 months to the tune of about $3,000). It pays well, but you must have steady work to enable it to pay for itself. It’s not for the timid. Hope this helps.

Cant do it legally here if Florida, but a lot of inspectors are. I even know of some banks that are using inspectors due to the low cost and they say it satisfies the lending requirements. One day, the sh*t will hit the fan.

Those who are still trying to scrape paint samples, or worse yet, use swabs, are sure biting off a huge chunk of liability! Anyone who is serious about providing lead inspections has to buy an XRF. For very occasional situations where damage is acceptable, the alternative is to cut out a measured area of the paint and the substrate (painted surface) and send it to a laboratory. Three centimeters by three centimeters might be a good size. The laboratory will report the total amount of lead present, so calculating the results in the same units given by an XRF (mg/cm2) is easy.

The kits at lowes and home depot will show “no lead” when lead is present sometimes I have been told.

I know lead paint can be in houses up to 1978.
The other day on the show house detective, they said that
“90 percent of the houses built before 1938” have lead paint.

MY question is how can any of them not have lead paint?
People repaint all the time and I think all houses before 1978 have it or the client should be told to expect it. If anyone really had it removed, they would have a reciept showing the $$$$ they spent.

The banks are the cause for most test inquiries, what are they trying to do anyway? No testing needed, old houses have lead paint period.

Is it more prone to have lead in gloss type paints such as used on molding and door jams etc? In my testing it seems more likely to get good solid readings when there are chips or rough edges.

It’s not as simple as “old houses have lead paint period”. The exceptions are all those old houses out there that no longer have LBP. The xrf is the recognized means to make that determination, to document to the bank, or buyer, as to if it was partially removed in the act of ordinary remodeling, or completely removed as in the course of abatement. Having a receipt that says you had your old house vinyl sided and soffit and fascia “enclosed” with coilstock, doesn’t mean that the house is “lead-free”. And by the way, “lead-free” doesn’t really mean totally free of LBP, but does mean below the state or Fed action levels, thus Negative and not Positive for LBP.
Today I xrf’ed a 1939 “lead-free” house that had just been remodeled with that purpose in mind. They did pretty well, all except for one interior door blank, which ended up on the dump trailer within the hour. I will issue that lead free certificate as soon as I complete the report. Last week, I xrf’ed a 1925 house with deeply buried traces of LBP on almost all interior standing and running trim. BUT, all readings were below the action level, so it’s also a “lead-free” house by definition. That’s the way it work sometimes.

I’m not sure what type of LBP testing you do, but you are not getting any solid “readings” from a swab vial that turns pink. Is it a little pink or a lot pink, I ask you? Would that be 0.9 mg/cm2 (negative for LBP in many states) or maybe it’s 26 mg/cm2 (positive in all states) That’s the danger of using swab vials, or another way to put it is “a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing”. Imagine if one of your clients acted on your information, meaning they paid to have all the interior trim removed and replaced in their house, because you demonstrated to them it had some lead in it, which turned out to be below the action level. Ooops! Here’s another angle to think about. An xrf reads down through all the paint layers including the substrate sometimes. If you have no flakes or “exposed edges” to swab, for example in a house that was completely repainted, then a swab only touches the surface layer which could only indicate Negative for 2006 paint, right? No pink in this 1940’s house must mean it’s lead-free, correct? Maybe but maybe not.
Forget the gloss vs semi-gloss thought. 60 year old gloss paint might look pretty dull today. Here’s what I’ve found through experience. On un-remodeled pre-1950 houses you are likely to find it everywhere on the painted exterior and quite often some places on the interior. For the most part you won’t find it on interior walls, because wallpaper on plaster was the rage back then. In post-1950 to pre-1978 houses, you will find it less on the interior, and less and less on both the exterior and interior the closer you get to 1978. Post-1978 rarely shows any LBP. There was a period when dark maghogany stain on the interior trim, doors, windows, and stairs was the rage. These situations are almost always non-LBP, BUT there are exceptions to that as well. Lead was mixed into both shellac and varnish that often covers the stain, I have discovered on several occasions.
Hope this helps.

Court rules against St. Louis on lead paint

By Jake Wagman


Wednesday, Jun. 13 2007

The city of St. Louis is not entitled to damages from the makers of lead paint,
the Missouri Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.

City officials claimed that Benjamin Moore & Co., Sherwin-Williams and other
paint manufacturers distributed the paint knowing it was “highly toxic and
posed a real and serious health threat, particularly for children.” Lead paint
was widely used in homes in St. Louis and around the country before it was
banned by the federal government in 1978. Lead paint poisoning has been linked to brain damage, learning disabilities and other conditions.

But a divided court found that the city did not present enough proof to back up its case, resulting in a ruling that ends St. Louis’ long-running feud against
lead paint companies, one that will likely discourage other cities in Missouri
from filing similar suits.

“The Supreme Court has spoken, and there isn’t ambiguity in what they said,”
said Tom Graves, general counsel for the National Paint and Coatings
Association, which filed a brief in the case. “It’s a slam-dunk. You have to
prove actual causation.”

St. Louis is one of a number of cities and states around the country seeking
repayment for the cost of cleaning up lead paint in old homes.

Though city lawyers presented the court with specific addresses that had been tainted by lead paint, they could not say which paint manufacturers actually were the suppliers for paint in a particular home, a fact that played a key role in the Supreme Court’s decision.

As a guide, the court used a 1984 case regarding a type of drug that was linked to an increased risk of cancer in pregnant women and their children. In that case, the court sided with the drug companies because the plaintiffs were unable to identify which company sold the particular product each mother had ingested.

In the St. Louis lead case, the court rejected the city’s “market share”
offense, which argued that a company’s liability should match the share of the market it had while lead paint was being sold.

“Even if the city could prove that a particular defendant held a certain share
of the lead-paint market in the city at the relevant time,” the court ruled,
“that still would not establish that the particular defendant actually caused
the problem.”

City Counselor Patti Hageman said the ruling will end the city’s push to recoup
money from the lead paint industry, an effort that began over seven years ago when Clarence Harmon was mayor. Although Hageman could not put a dollar value on what was at stake, the city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars removing lead paint from private homes in St. Louis.

The city’s case was doomed by the court’s insistence on showing, as Hageman put it, “paint chip by paint chip,” which company was responsible for lead in a specific home.

“That’s an impossibly high standard to prove,” Hageman said.

City attorneys, hoping to avoid that standard, argued that the lead case was
not a traditional product liability issue, but rather a “public nuisance.” That
argument resonated with three of the court’s seven judges, including Chief
Justice Michael A. Wolff, who wrote the dissent.

Wolff wrote that it did not matter which company supplied paint to a specific
home. He compared the lead paint problem to a hypothetical lawsuit against 10 defendants who poured “toxic sludge” into a stream used for drinking water.

“In the same way that it is appropriate to make polluters contribute to the
cost of the cleanup of their sludge,” Wolff wrote, “it seems appropriate to
make the manufacturers of lead-based paint help pay for the cost of remediating the poison they have helped distribute.”

jwagman@post-dispatch.com | 314-622-3580

From JLC “News” May 2007

“In Rhode Island, a Superior Court judge has refused a motion for a new trial from three paint manufacturers who were found guilty last year of creating a public nuisance by distributing lead-based paint in the state. Judge Michael Silverstein plans to appoint a “special master” whose job will be to determine how to clean up the state’s estimated 250,000 lead-contaminated houses, and how much to charge the paint companies for the work. Those companies, Sherwin-Williams, Millennium Holdings, and NL Industries, plan to appeal the decision to the Rhode Island Supreme Court.”