Lead Testing Detects Contamination After Renovations


Often, there is the potential for disturbing lead-based paint and other lead-containing materials during home renovation projects. This could result in potentially harmful levels of lead in dust particles in your home. A client of ours, Danielle, contacted us for lead testing with just such a concern after performing multiple renovations in her older home.

Older Homes May Contain Lead-Based Paint

The age of Danielle’s house was an immediate concern. She said her home had been built in 1900. Though the use of lead-based paint in homes has been banned in the United States since 1978, lead-based paint is often still found on the walls and woodwork of many older homes. Renovation projects can disturb lead-based paint and result in harmful lead dust particles that contaminate your home’s air quality.

Danielle told us that she knew her home contained lead-based paint. However, she didn’t want us to perform a full lead-based paint risk assessment in her home, which would evaluate the magnitude of lead hazards throughout her home and the soil surrounding her home.

Instead, Danielle was concerned about how multiple home renovations had affected specific areas in her house. She wanted us to determine the concentrations of lead in the dust particles of the areas specifically affected by the renovations and in the home’s water.

The Areas Sampled to Test for the Presence of Lead

To effectively assess the specific areas requested, we performed limited lead dust wipe sampling. This involved collecting samples from the settled dust on the floors in the kitchen, living room, basement stairway landing, and a second-floor bedroom. We used a wet wipe surface test to collect the dust from the surface areas. We also tested for lead in the home’s drinking water.

At Danielle’s request, we collected a sample of water from the attic bath tub due to her concern about her child using the tub for bathing. We then sent the samples to an accredited laboratory for analysis.

Results from Testing for Lead in Dust Wipe and Drinking Water Sampling

One of the four dust wipe samples showed results that contained detectable levels of lead above the thresholds established by the EPA. The sample collected at the home’s basement stairway landing at the back door showed 98 micrograms per square foot. The EPA’s threshold for lead in settled dust on floors is 40 micrograms per square foot.

The lead test result from drinking water sampled showed an amount of 2.10 parts per billion, which is below the EPA’s highest concentration of lead allowed in drinking water – 15 parts per billion.

Recommendations for Danielle

Three of the four dust wipe samples tested for lead showed results that were below the EPA’s established limit of detection. The dust wipe sample collected from the basement stairway landing contained lead concentrations above the EPA’s threshold.

We recommended that Danielle have the basement stairway landing area cleaned by a licensed lead abatement contractor. We also suggested that she would need to remove the lead-based paint in those areas that may also be contributing the elevated lead levels in order to prevent further lead dust contamination. Follow-up sampling will show whether her efforts were effective at reducing the elevated levels of lead detected in her home.

The water sample collected from the bath tub fixture in the attic revealed the presence of lead below the EPA’s highest allowable level. Any amount of lead in drinking water can be harmful to human health. However, the EPA says that bathing and showering in water with lead can be acceptable if the water is not ingested. Human skin does not absorb the lead from the water.

We also recommended that Danielle consider testing all the water fixtures in her house that are or could be used for drinking water to ensure the water is safe for human consumption.

Lead Testing is Critical

Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, often over months or years of exposure. Small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems. Lead poisoning can be fatal at very high levels. Lead poisoning can be difficult to detect. The only way to know for sure is through testing.

Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in older homes are the most common sources of lead poisoning. Contact the professionals at Healthy Home to have your home evaluated for the presence of lead to ensure your family’s health and safety.

Dan Rouse