If your home was built before 1978, there is a possibility that it was painted with lead based paint. Lead can cause all sorts of health problems, especially in children who have a higher chance of ingesting lead from lead based paint. Lead based paint that is peeling or chipping can get into the soil around a home causing it to be contaminated with lead. If you are remodeling, interior or exterior walls that are disturbed that were painted with lead paint might allow lead particles to be airborne and someone might breathe them in. If testing for lead paint, make sure to test all surfaces, not just the walls. This includes baseboards, cabinets, stairs, windows, fireplaces, doors, ceilings, porches, fences, gutters, siding, swing sets, the mailbox, and more. Here are some ways to test for lead paint.
For the most accurate lead paint test, you should hire a professional. There are 3 types of tests they can run - a lead based paint inspection, a lead risk assessment, or a lead hazard screening.
Lead Based Paint Inspection
A lead based paint inspection involves a specialist coming to your home and testing painted surfaces of your home to determine whether they contain lead. It does not say whether your home is at risk for lead poisoning, it just states whether lead is present.
Lead Risk Assessment
A lead risk assessment is a paint inspection only of disturbed paint areas that also determines the type and amount of lead in the disturbed paint and perhaps soil near the disturbed paint. This is especially important if a child has ingested paint and you need to know if it contained lead and how much lead it contained.
Lead Hazard Screening
A lead hazard screening is like a lead risk assessment except it is used in homes with a low lead risk and is more of a general screening than a full assessment. A few samples are taken and if lead paint is suspected from a lead hazard screening, a full lead risk assessment will likely be suggested.
You can collect paint samples from your home and send them off to a laboratory for lead paint testing. You should send them to a laboratory recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency. Contact the laboratory of your choice for instructions on how to obtain the paint samples.
Home Test Kits
There are home test kids available to test for lead. You can find them online or at major home improvement stores for about $25. The Environmental Protection Agency currently does not recommend using any lead paint home test kits because they are somewhat unreliable.