Lead Testing & Surveys

Lead & Lead Paint:
Inspections, Surveys, Collection, Analysis

Lead is a toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around homes, schools, businesses and general industry. Since we now know that lead exposure can cause a wide range of health effects, especially in children six years old and under, it is important to identify and limit sources of lead exposure. If you would like to test for sources of lead in your home or business, give us a call.

Is Lead Dangerous?

At certain levels, lead can be harmful to human health if it enters the body (via eating, drinking, or breathing lead particles). Lead from paint and lead-contaminated dust is one of the most common causes of lead poisoning. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there is no safe blood lead level (BLL) in children.

How Do You Test For Lead?

Lead can be found in water, soil, air, and building materials. To test for lead in your drinking water or soil, contact ARA or a certified laboratory in your area. To test for lead in a home or building (especially if built before 1978), you must call a certified lead inspector or risk assessor (FMI: www.epa.gov/lead).

ARA’s lead services include: certified analysis of lead in water, soil, paint chips, dust wipes and air filters, including performing TCLP for disposal requirements, Lead Inspections (VT, ME), Lead Clearance Testing (VT, ME), Lead Surveys, Sample Collection, and Certified Lab Analysis.

If you need to test environmental samples collected from a lead inspection, lead risk assessment, lead hazard screen, or lead abatement clearance, those samples must be analyzed by an EPA accredited NLLAP laboratory (NLLAP = National Lead Laboratory Accreditation Program). ARA partners with NLLAP labs in the area, or you can find a list of nationwide NLLAP labs here.

To test your blood for lead, called a “lead screening test,” contact your health provider or state health department.

What Is A Lead Screening Test?

A lead screening test is a blood test to determine the concentration, if any, of lead in a blood sample. Many states, including NH, require a Lead Screening Test for young children. FMI on the lead rules in your state, visit this CDC weblink.

Why Is Lead Testing Important? 

At certain levels, lead can be harmful to human health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body, especially in children. Children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from brain / nervous system damage, behavior and learning problems, hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems, headaches. Adults with high lead levels can suffer from reproductive problems, high blood pressure, hypertension, nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems, muscle and joint pain.

When Should Lead Screening Be Done?

Many states, including NH, require a Lead Screening Test for all young children ages 6 and under. FMI on lead screenings in your state visit: this weblink: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/programs/default.htm, or talk to your family doctor.  Homes and buildings built before 1978 are very likely to contain lead paint, so if you live or work in such a building, or if you suspect lead exposure related to your job, you may want to have your blood lead levels tested.  If you consume water from a private well, it is recommended that you test your water for lead and other harmful contaminants every few years. If your drinking water test results indicate high levels of lead, you may want to get a BLL lead screening for you and your family.

What Is A Normal Lead Level?

From 2009 to 2015, the definition for an elevated blood lead level was ten or more micrograms per deciliter (10 μg/dL). In 2015, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) lowered this standard for adults (age 16+) to 5 μg/dL. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no safe blood lead level for children. FMI visit this CDC weblink.

Can Lead Be Absorbed Through Skin?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the only lead compounds that easily penetrate the skin are the additives in leaded gasoline, which is no longer available to the average consumer. The general public is not likely to encounter lead that can enter through the skin.

Is It Safe To Live In A House With Lead Paint?

A critical question to consider in terms of lead and human safety is whether or not children will be occupying the space, becuase as stated earlier, there is no safe BLL in children. Lead paint can still be found in millions of homes and buildings, often under layers of new paint. According to the EPA, unless the paint is deteriorating or subject to frequent wear and tear (i.e., door jams, windows/windowsills, stairs), it often does not present a serious problem. However, renovation and repair projects can disturb lead paint and lead dust, and precautions should always be taken to minimize exposure.

To test for lead paint and lead dust in a home or building (especially if built before 1978 and/or if occupied by children), it is very important that you call a certified lead inspector or risk assessor If you find that you have lead paint which you need to remove, be sure you hire a Lead Safe Renovator. We do not recommend DIY (do-it-yourself) for any project or renovation involving lead paint.

What is the Difference Between a Lead Risk Assessment and a Lead Survey? 

Lead Risk Assessment requires a license, and is specific for residential dwellings or commercial buildings with the intended use to house or accommodate children under the age of 6, (e.g., schools). You are essentially assessing the lead risk to children living or spending a significant amount of time in the space.

Lead Survey is often part of a Hazard Material Survey for building demolition, and includes inspecting, sampling, and testing for lead based paint in occupied commercial and/or federal buildings, and also during the demolition of buildings (residential or otherwise).

ARA’s Lead Services

ARA can perform lead inspections for your commercial projects. ARA’s IAQ Team will safely inspect your painted & varnished surfaces for lead via:

  • Xray Fluorescence Analyzer (XRF)*
  • Paint Chip Samples
  • Lead Dust wipes

*The XRF can detect lead in 26 layers of paint

ARA is certified to conduct the analysis of lead in soil, lead in paint chips, dust wipes and air filters, including performing TCLP for disposal requirements.

  • Lead Inspections
  • Lead in Water Testing
  • Lead Surveys
  • Sample Collection
  • Certified Lab Analysis

If you are unsure whether your project requires a Lead Inspection, Lead Survey, or Lead Risk Assessment, read our popular blog post about this topic.

Lead Paint and Renovation/Repairs

Beginning April 22, 2010, federal law requires that contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb more than six square feet of paint in homes, childcare facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and trained to follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.

To learn more about EPA’s “Renovate Right” visit: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers and Schools (PDF)

Many houses and apartments built before 1978 have paint that contains lead (called lead-based paint or lead paint). Federal law requires that individuals receive certain information before renting or buying a pre-1978 housing:

  • Landlords must disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before leases take effect. Leases must include a disclosure form about lead-based paint.
  • Sellers must disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before selling a house.
  • Real Estate Sales Contracts must include a disclosure form about lead-based paint.
  • Buyers may perform their own lead inspection (and other inspections) on a property before purchase.

Click here for more information on the lead disclosure program

Lead Paint

The federal government banned lead-based paint in 1978, and some states stopped its use even earlier. Many homes and buildings built before 1978 have lead paint, however. If you live or work in an old building, you should have it tested for lead, and pay attention to high traffic areas in which the paint would experience heavy wear and tear, such as windows and windowsills, doors and door frames, stairs, railings, banisters, porches and fences. Do not renovate or scrape paint in older homes without first testing for the presence of lead-based paint.

Lead in Soil

Soil can pick up lead from exterior paint, or other sources such as past use of leaded gas in cars. Lead in soil can be a hazard when children play in the yard inhale the lead dust, or when people bring soil into the house on their shoes. Contact ARA to find out about testing your soil for lead.

Lead Dust

Household dust can pick up lead from deteriorating lead-based paint or from contaminated soil tracked into a home. Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is dry scraped, dry sanded, or heated. Dust also forms when painted surfaces bump or rub together. Lead chips and dust can get on surfaces and objects that people touch. Settled lead dust can re-enter the air when people vacuum, sweep or walk through it.

Lead in Water

Your home might have plumbing with lead or lead solder. You cannot see, smell or taste lead, and boiling your water will not get rid of lead. If you think your plumbing might have lead in it:

  • Use only cold water for drinking and cooking
  • Run water for 15 to 30 seconds before drinking it, especially if you have not used your water for a few hours
  • Have your water tested regularly for lead levels, contact us to obtain a drinking water test kit – for lead and other common contaminants
  • If your water contains lead, consider using an alternate water source and replacing old plumbing
Lead Exposure at Work

If you are exposed to lead in your workplace, you could potentially bring traces of lead home on your hands, in your hair, or on your clothes and shoes. If you have children at home and work in an occupation with a high risk of lead exposure, such as construction, manufacturing, or remediation, you might consider showering and changing your clothes before coming home, and perhaps even laundering your work clothes separately from the rest of your family’s clothes.

Lead Exposure is a Common Issue for Firing Ranges

If you work in or use an indoor firing range, you may be exposed to unhealthy levels of lead dust. Shooting ranges must have proper health and safety protocols in place to protect employees and customers from lead exposure. If you are unsure, ask the facility owner about their lead safety protocols and whether they perform regular lead inspections for the facility.

There are several scenarios which can cause lead exposure to employees and customers of firing ranges:

  • Breathing lead fumes from gun “smoke”
  • Exposure to lead dust released when gun is fired
  • Airborne lead dust when loading and cleaning guns
  • Exposure to settled & airborne lead dust when cleaning the facility
  • Lead ingestion when eating or drinking items containing microscopic lead particles
  • Carrying lead home on clothing, hair and skin, especially if there are children in the home
Health Effects of Lead Exposure

Childhood lead poisoning remains a major environmental health problem in the United States.

If not detected early, children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from:

  • Damage to the brain and nervous system
  • Behavior and learning problems, such as hyperactivity
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing problems
  • Headaches

Lead is also harmful to adults. Adults can suffer from:

  • Reproductive problems (in both men and women)
  • High blood pressure and hypertension
  • Nerve disorders
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Muscle and joint pain
The Most Common Sources of Lead Poisoning are:
  • Deteriorating lead-based paint
  • Lead contaminated dust
  • Lead contaminated residential soil

Contact ARA if you would like to hear more about our Lead Inspections and Lead Testing Services.