The Environmental Protection Agency publishes a guide entitled “Testing Your Home for Lead in Paint, Dust, and Soil” which offers helpful instruction at http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadtest.pdf.
According to the EPA, you can get your home checked in one of two ways, or both. A paint inspection tells you the lead content of every different type of painted surface in your home. It won’t tell you whether the paint is a hazard or how you should deal with it.
A risk assessment tells you if there are any sources of serious lead exposure (such as peeling paint and lead dust). It also tells you what actions to take to address these hazards.
Have qualified professionals do the work. There are standards in place for certifying lead-based paint professionals to ensure the work is done safely, reliably, and effectively. Contact the National Lead Information Center (NLIC) for a list of contacts in your area.
Note: Home test kits for lead are available, but studies suggest that they are not always accurate. Consumers should not rely on these tests before doing renovations or to assure safety.
If your house was built before 1978 it is VERY likely that it contains lead paint somewhere unless you have a certificate that says your home is “Lead Free”, however very few homes have these certificates. I served as a lead paint inspector for three years and the public often doesn’t realize how at risk they are from lead paint. Even if your walls are painted in latex paint, there is still probably lead paint underneath.
Home test kits are not incredibly reliable, so if you are still uncertain, you should call an inspector, or contact a lead program to see how you can best protect your family from lead exposure.
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