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Should Your Painter Use Lead Paint Swabs


The swabs are intended to provide an instant response for a user who is testing for the presence of lead in paint in a home. HybriVet Systems originally manufactured the kits until 3M purchased the company in 2011.

3M did not respond to inquiries about the accuracy of their test swabs from Investigative Post. The company’s website states the swabs are “EPA recognized on drywall and plaster” and provide “superior accuracy and sensitivity.” A representative of the former makers of the kits, Hybrivet Systems, told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle in 2007 that “we never developed the tests for dust.”Lead paint xrf

"No kit in the study achieved low rates of both false-positive and false-negative results. Two out of six kits were prone to false-negative results. Negative test results obtained with these two kits do not necessarily indicate the absence of lead. The other four kits had a tendency to produce false-positive results, even at levels of lead well below the federal thresholds." - 2015 EPA Study Overall, the rate of false negatives for the LeadCheck Swabs was 64% (sensitivity of 36%). Thus, nearly two-thirds of the samples taking according to spot test kit instructions for detecting lead in dust and received a negative result, hazardous levels of dust lead (i.e., ≥40 μg/ft2) were actually present. There are a number of possible reasons why the LeadCheck Swabs did not perform as well as expected for detecting lead in the dust under field conditions. First, the number of brown-colored swab results suggests that dirt may interfere with the overall sensitivity of the swabs. Many of the swabs turned some shade of brown between the pure yellow and pink/red color results discussed in the LeadCheck Swab instructions. This suggests that household dirt may interfere with the reaction between the dye in the LeadCheck Swabs and reactive lead in the dust. Dust wipes are analyzed using flame atomic absorption spectroscopy (FAAS), inductively coupled plasma emission spectrometry or other similar procedure, which detects total lead that has been dissolved and digested using strong acid and reflux, whereas the swabs may only detect free lead ions that have been dissolved using the reagent in the swabs, which is not a strong acid. Lead that is bound to other molecules or insoluble might not trigger the swabs’ chemical reaction. The results of this study suggest that LeadCheck Swabs do not reliably detect levels of lead in dust above 40 μg/ft2 using published methods under field conditions. The swabs did not accurately predict hazardous levels of dust lead loading for any studied surface (i.e., floors or sills) or substrate (i.e., painted or unpainted).

HUD, Sections 8 & King County Housing Authority view Lead Paint Testing:

Testing of specific surfaces, by XRF (x-ray fluorescence) or lab analysis, to determine the lead content of these surfaces, performed by a certified lead-based paint inspector or certified risk assessor. Lead Swabs are not allowed or accepted as a means of lead paint testing.

Lead-Based Paint Laws and Rules LEAD ABATEMENT PROFESSIONALS WAC 365-230 – Administrative rule that describes requirements for individuals and firms performing lead-based paint abatement, risk assessments, hazard screens, inspections, renovations, and dust sampling.NOTE: Washington Regulations are written to mirror the federal EPA LBP/RRP regulations with only one exception. To find this exception, please refer to WAC 365-230-200 (8) (g) and (h) Washington Business Licensing Requirements – Links to the Washington Department of Licensing business licensing webpage. Any firm applying for lead-based paint activities certification from the Department of Commerce must be licensed to do business in Washington and must provide their Uniform Business Identifier (UBI) number. CONTRACTORS AND PAINTERS Worker Protection and Safety Requirements - Links to the Washington Department of Labor and Industries Lead Safety webpage, including the Lead in Construction Rule. Employers must protect their employees from exposure to lead. Contractor Registration – Links to the Washington Department of Labor and Industries contractor registration webpage.

56% Of Homes Built In King County Were Built Before 1978

Any home constructed before 1978 may have lead paint. As a result, in 1991 the EPA stated that lead-based paint is considered the “number one environmental threat to children’s health in the United States.” More importantly, according to the EPA, lead paint removal should only be performed by A Certified Seattle Lead Paint Removal Contractor.

Lead Paint XRF Testing For Demolished Buildings

City of Sammamish requires Lead Paint testing for all Demolition projects. In Sammamish as a condition of a permit, the Owner / Applicant / Contractor is responsible for complying with Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (206-343-8800) requirements pursuant to Washington Administrative Code Section 173-400-075 regarding the removal of “friable asbestos”.

Lead paint test is required:

If the lead has been determined to be present, then as a condition of the demolition permit the following will be required by the applicant:

Provide advanced community notification with actual demolition dates.

Control dust using water from a water truck or existing water services. If you do not have water service, you must obtain a water connection.

If no water source of connection is available, you may apply for a hydrant permit to use water temporarily from a hydrant.

Using fencing and other barriers to control the spread of dust during and after demolition.

Protect the stormwater drainage system from sediment-laden runoff and loose particles. To the extent possible, use dikes, berms or other methods to protect overland discharge paths from runoff.

Sweep streets gutters, sidewalks, driveways and other paved surfaces in the immediate area of the demolition daily to collect and properly dispose of loose debris and garbage.

Keep children and other pedestrians away from the site.

Asbestos removal and disposal shall be performed in accordance with Puget Sound Clean Air Agency requirements and State Law.

Lead Testing

If the coatings are found to contain detectable levels of lead, and portions of this project area with lead-coating paint will be demolished and disposed of, a toxicity characteristic leachate procedure (TCLP) sample that is representative of the waste stream must be collected and analyzed per the requirements of WAC 173-303. Screen the building components to be removed using a field method such as portable XRF. Take representative samples of the components that field screening indicates are lead-contaminated and send for TCLP analysis. Segregate those materials which fail the TCLP test (i.e. have lead concentrations over 5.0 mg/l) for removal as dangerous waste. The remainder is solid waste. Selecting a representative sample: The most conservative approach is to sample every individual component. This may result in excessive and unnecessary sampling for some projects. An alternative approach is to sample each similarly-contaminated surface (one sample of each room that has a different paint surface, one sample of each unique baseboard, trim, siding etc.). Take a full cross-sectional piece of the component for linear components (trim, baseboards, windowsills etc.). Take proportional amounts of the component for non-linear components (for a window take proportional amounts of any glass, wood, metal, paint and glazing compound).


Lead Paint - Why You Need Testing


Beginning April 22, 2010, federal law required that contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb more than six square feet of paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be trained, certified and meet all Lead Safe Work Practices to prevent lead-based paint dust contamination.

Approximately 75 percent of homes in Seattle area built prior to 1978 contain at least some lead paint. The likelihood that lead paint was used in a home increases with the structure’s age. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that at least 19 million homes present lead-based paint hazards, and 4 million of these homes house children under the age of 6.


Lead paint inspections are a surface by surface investigation for lead based paint. Pacific Northwest Inspections Group's Lead Consultants Lead Inspection includes testing for Lead Paint in all accessible interior rooms and all sides of the Exterior. Our testing is conducted using an XRF analyzer which uses an X-Ray to detected lead based paint. Benefits of XRF are: No cutting of paint chips, no laboratories and no touchup painting Immediate, accurate instant results. We’ll tell you if there is lead on-site with Safe effective testing. Since we don’t cut or score the walls paint, we eliminate exposing paint and creating a Lead hazard. Upon completion of our Lead Paint Survey, we provide a comprehensive report. The report will detail by room and component where, if any, lead paint was identified and is valid for the life of the structure.

Lead in the home can cause serious long-term health problems, particularly for children, making it imperative for those living in pre-1978 homes to get lead testing. Lead exposure is dangerous to children even before they are born. Lead is a neurotoxin affecting development and function of the central nervous system, red blood cells and kidneys. Even low levels can be harmful. Lead exposure may lead to decreased intelligence, speech problems, attention deficit disorder and learning disabilities. Poor muscle coordination, impaired bone and muscle growth and hearing damage are other potential effects of lead exposure.

Section 8 and HUD Lead Paint testing

Contact with high levels of lead is more serious, with the potential for unconsciousness, seizures and even death. Children can ingest lead-based paint in a number of ways. Deteriorating paint often flakes off in loose chips and dust. When children swallow these materials, they can develop lead poisoning. Lead dust easily collects on baby bottles, toys and children’s hands. Sources of lead may include any areas with peeling and chipped paint such as window sills, doors and walls, as well as soil around the house and lead water pipes or lead solder.

Adults who are exposed to lead may experience high blood pressure, fertility problems, nerve disorders, digestive problems, difficulty concentrating and joint and muscle pain. Those involved in remodeling older homes risk lead exposure as older layers of paint are disturbed during the renovation process. Lead dust can be picked up on skin, hair and clothing and transferred to other family members. There are several ways to test for lead in the home. You may take samples and send them to a lab, or you may obtain a do-it-yourself kit. Another method involves hiring professionals who are trained in the use of specialized equipment.

Besides making a visual inspection of lead-based paint location and condition, an inspector will use X-ray fluorescence, or XRF. An XRF is a portable X-ray device capable of seeing through surfaces to detect any lead underneath. The inspector may also collect dust, paint and soil samples for submission to a lab. Testing is especially important in situations where paint is deteriorating or when pregnant women, babies and children live in a pre-1978 home. Once testing has been completed, action can be taken to protect the health of the home’s occupants.

Contaminated items will be replaced and the problematic paint covered with gypsum wallboard or sealant. Professionals can even remove the lead paint completely. It is especially important to keep the home’s occupants out of the area until the job is completed. The time and effort involved in removing lead hazards from the home are well worth it when you consider the cost of lead contamination to the health and well-being of the people who come into contact with it.

Inspectors are required by law to be State Certified. Call us for testing in your home or office 425.608.9553. Serving Seattle, Kirkland, Redmond, Woodinville, Renton, Kent, Bothell, Bellevue, Medina and all of Puget Sound King County.

Risk Assessment and Lead Inspection

The table below shows the differences between the two types of investigations and why we require both to be done.

What's the Difference between a Risk Assessment and a Lead Inspection?

All of our inspectors carry the Lead Risk Assessors certification. This additional training allows us to not only perform lead testing, it allows us to discuss any of the risks associated with different building materials in your home. Standard lead inspectors are only allowed to collect samples and cannot provide advice or recommendations. Without the ability to provide recommendations, the value of the lead testing is very limited.

Analysis, Content or Use Risk Assessment LBP Inspection Combination
Paint Deteriorated paint only Surface-by-surface Surface-by-surface includes deteriorated paint
Dust Yes Optional Yes
Bare Soil Yes, when locality indicates the possibility of soil lead hazards Optional Yes, when locally indicated
Water Optional Optional Optional
Air No No No
Maintenance Status Optional No Optional
Management Policies and Procedures Optional No Optional
Review of Previous Paint Testing Yes Yes Yes
Typical Uses 1. Interim controls
2. Building nearing the end of expected life
3. Sale of property or turnover
4. Documentation of absence of lead hazards for insurance or state requirements
1. Abatement
2. Renovation work
3. Weatherization
4. Sale of property or turnover
5. Remodeling or repainting
1. Addresses presence of LBP and hazards in a comprehensive manner
2. Generates data for decision-making where both interim controls and abatement strategies may be used in building
3. May be more cost-effective than separate investigations
Final Report Generated Lead Hazard Control Plan including options for Interim Controls OR certification of LBP compliance Whether LBP is present and if so, where (lead concentrations for each surface tested) Presence and locations of LBP, recommendations for hazard control options

Call us today for an in home XRF Lead Paint Inspection; serving the Seattle area for Residential and Commercial buildings... and yes we also test paint on manufacturing equipment,household goods, toys and meet CPSC.

Download a copy of the EPA Renovate Right Brochure

Home Buyers and Lead Paint

Law requires that before being obligated under a contract to buy housing built prior to 1978, buyers must receive the following from the home seller: An EPA-approved information pamphlet on identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards titled Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home (PDF)Any known information concerning the presence of lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards in the home or building. For multi-unit buildings, this requirement includes records and reports concerning common areas and other units when such information was obtained as a result of a building-wide evaluation. An attachment to the contract, or language inserted in the contract, that includes a "Lead Warning Statement" and confirms that the seller has complied with all notification requirements. Sample Seller&Owner's Disclosure of Information A 10-day period to conduct a paint inspection or risk assessment for lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards. Parties may mutually agree, in writing, to lengthen or shorten the time period for inspection. Homebuyers may waive this inspection opportunity. If you have a concern about possible lead-based paint, then get a lead inspection before buying. Call us today @ 425.608.9553