Most homes built before 1950 have lead paint. After 1950, the use of lead in paint declined; but many homes built until 1978 still had some lead paint. Lead paint is most likely to be hazardous when it is deteriorating (chipping, flaking, or chalking) or when maintenance or remodeling work creates lead dust or debris.
Various lead paint inspection services are available to identify lead paint or to evaluate lead paint hazards. You may obtain a list of accredited inspection contractors from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). You may do some limited testing yourself, but information provided by a trained and accredited inspector will generally be more complete and definitive.
A complete survey is performed to determine the presence and location of lead paint hazards in a home or other building. Such a survey includes sampling of all painted surfaces on the interior and the exterior of the building. Neither a single paint chip sample nor a composite sample of several different areas within a building can give an accurate picture of the extent or location of lead paint hazards. A lead paint survey may be of particular use if you are planning repainting or remodeling activities that may disturb painted surfaces in your home.
A risk assessment will provide an evaluation of potential sources of lead exposure in a home. The condition of the paint should be noted because dust from peeling, chipping or chalking paint is the most common source of lead exposure in young children. Repainting, maintenance and other home improvement activities should also be considered by the risk assessor. While lead paint continues to be the most important source of high level lead exposures, a full risk assessment may include other sources, such as water, food and parental occupation.
A lead hazard screen, conducted by a risk assessor, determines whether a home that is in good condition has potential lead hazards.
Please see the fact sheet on "Abatement of Lead Paint Hazards" for more information about possible exposures to lead paint. Please also see the fact sheet about "Inspections for Rental Housing" if you own or manage rental property.
Yes. With direction from a laboratory, you can collect paint scrapings from areas of your home which you would like to test. Take (or mail) your samples to the laboratory.
You may also use a chemical spot test kit for lead paint. Several paint stores now sell such kits. Follow kit directions carefully. See page 4 of this fact sheet for advantages and disadvantages of these tests.
For a complete survey or risk assessment of a home, you should hire an experienced professional testing company. Contact individual firms to determine specific services provided and costs for these services. Due to differences in services provided, as well as technical operations, there may be a wide variation in prices. We recommend you call at least 3 organizations to compare prices and services before you contract for testing services.
Is the company currently accredited by the State of Maryland as a lead paint inspection contractor?
The following levels of lead content in paint or other coating material exceed regulatory standards:
1. Analyzed in laboratory
2. Results are usually very accurate
3. Results reflect lower, as well as upper layers of paint
1. Lengthy processing time in laboratory
2. 30 to 70 samples usually needed for a home
3. Lab costs can be high
4. Quantitative results can be "watered down" if there are many paint layers
5. Destructive to painted surfaces
6. Collection of samples can be difficult, time-consuming work
1. Performed on site
2. Less destructive to painted surfaces
3. Results are available as soon as after inspection
1. Equipment is expensive
2. Operator must be trained and have extensive experience with the equipment
1. Quick on-site results. Can be used as a screening test.
3. Test kits available at some paint or hardware stores
1. Other metals in paint may cause false positive readings.
2. May be difficult to use with colored paint.
3. May fail to detect lead in bottom layers of paint.
4. Some surface destruction necessary.
5. Cannot measure the amount of lead present.
6. Results are not recognized under Maryland regulations.
*This is the second in a series of seven Fact Sheets providing guidance consistent with Maryland Lead Paint Abatement Regulations (COMAR 26.02.07) and Departmental Policies.
1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21230