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Testing for and Removing Lead Paint

What's Involved in an Inspection for Lead Paint? continued...

The report that follows the inspection will identify which surfaces have lead-based paint. The report does not indicate the condition of the paint or whether it poses a health risk.

Risk assessment

A risk assessment locates deteriorating paint in your home and evaluates the extent and cause of the deterioration. Then the deteriorated paint is tested, as well as paint on surfaces where it looks like a child has been biting, mouthing, or licking. Painted surfaces in good condition are not tested. A risk assessment also tests household dust as well as soil in outside play areas and around the foundation. Dust samples are usually collected from floors and windows by using a wet wipe, then sent with the paint samples for lab analysis.

A risk assessment report will tell you where lead hazards exist in your house and indicate ways to correct them. Because not all surfaces are tested, a negative report doesn’t necessarily mean there's no lead-based paint in the house. Some homeowners choose to have a paint inspection and a risk assessment.

Hazard screen

A hazard screen is similar to a risk assessment, but not as extensive. It's usually done for homes with a lower risk of lead hazard. An assessor inspects areas of deterioration and collects two samples of dust, one from floors and one from windows. Soil samples are usually not collected unless there's evidence of paint chips in the soil. A hazard screen identifies the probability of there being a risk present. If there is a probability, the report will recommend a risk assessment.

Can I Inspect My House Myself?

The EPA strongly recommends that lead tests be done by either a certified lead inspector or a certified lead risk assessor.

There are home lead test kits available, however. They use chemicals that change color to indicate the presence of lead. They’re less expensive than a full inspection or assessment, their accuracy is questionable, and they don’t provide the detail that an inspection or a risk assessment gives.

You may also collect your own paint samples and send them to a lab for analysis. However, the samples you collect may not be as complete as the samples a certified professional would gather.

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