What Causes Lead Poisoning?

Lead is a toxic metal that may cause a range of health effects in both children and adults, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities to seizures and death. Almost one million children between the ages of one and five have dangerous blood-lead levels. Many houses and apartments built before 1978, when lead paint was banned, still have lead paint on many surfaces.

Lead gets into the body when it is swallowed or inhaled. People, especially children, can swallow lead dust as they eat, play, and do other normal hand-to-mouth activities. People may also breathe in lead dust or fumes if they disturb lead-based paint. People who sand, scrape, burn, brush or blast or otherwise disturb lead-based paint risk unsafe exposure to lead.

FederLeadBasedPaintal law requires that individuals receive certain information before renovating six square feet or more of painted surfaces in a room for interior projects or more than twenty square feet of painted surfaces for exterior projects in housing, child care facilities and schools built before 1978. As of April 2010, federal law requires contractors that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities and schools, built before 1978 to be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.

You can hire a certified professional to check for lead-based paint. These professionals are certified risk assessors or inspectors, and can determine if your home has lead or lead hazards. A certified inspector or risk assessor can conduct an inspection telling you whether your home, or a portion of your home, has lead-based paint and where it is located. This will tell you the areas in your home where lead-safe work practices are needed. A certified risk assessor can conduct a risk assessment telling you if your home currently has any lead hazards from lead in paint, dust, or soil. The risk assessor can also tell you what actions to take to address any hazards.

Our team can perform dust, bulk, air, and soil sampling to provide the following:

  • Conduct lead-paint testing to identify the amount of lead present in painted or sealed surfaces in your home, business, school, or organization
  • Provide lead dust, water, and soil sampling to determine if other sources of lead are present
  • Provide a detailed report and then discuss your specific options
  • Write a lead abatement plan for a third-party lead abatement firm that you select

Lead Testing

Since it is nearly impossible to identify areas where lead may be present to the naked eye, testing helps document the full scope of a situation.

When to test for lead:

  • If you rent or own a house or apartment built before 1978
  • If you are buying, selling, or renting a condominium, co-op, or home built before 1978
  • Before beginning any renovation
  • Before disturbing more than two square feet of painted surface
  • Before beginning any demolition project on a property built before 1978


Alert IconA word of caution: Removing or disturbing lead-painted surfaces improperly can increase a hazard.  Lead dust can be spread around a house, office building, or school. Use only contractors and professionals certified in lead-safe work practices, who follow strict safety rules when working with lead. Disturbance or demolition of structural materials identified as containing lead should be performed according to EPA and OSHA regulations.