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Lead Testing - Green Building Myth Busting, and DIY vs Professional Testing

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Lead Testing for Tile and Plumbing Fixtures 

When most of us think about lead testing, we’re typically thinking that lead might be in paint.  But did you know that lead can be in tile and even in plumbing fixtures?  Do most remodelers know this?

In this video, Green Builder Matt Hoots reports that some of lead paint tests at the Atlanta-area #1920sMakeoverATL Deep Energy Retrofit came back positive, but that the bathroom wall tile tested came back 5 to 6 times higher.  The bathroom floor tile was negative, but the tub was also positive.  

Scott Anglin of National Environmental Solutions, Inc. explains that indeed wall and floor tile can have lead in them when fired, and that demolition can disturb these tiles and cause a lead dust hazard without proper remediation. 



How do you know if your home has lead?  

All homes built before 1978 should be tested, as this is when lead was no longer used in paint.  Matt shares that we need to test the layers of the paint, particularly since the outer and therefore more recent layers are less likely to have lead, and we could miss potential lead in earlier coatings.  Matt walks us through how he uses a test kit purchased in a retail store.  The kit first returns a negative result, but further tests show that lead may be present, particularly on the windows.  Matt explains that the negatives might actually suggest that possible previous lead paint on some areas of the home may have been sandblasted.  Hopefully, proper procedures were followed at that time if that was the case.  If not, it means that there may have been or be lead residue in the surrounding soil.  Matt also shares how to keep lead from  escaping while testing possibly flaky paint.


Professional Lead Testing and Equipment

In this video, Matt and Scott walk through the difference between a simple swab test and Scott’s more technically advanced equipment.  Matt wanted to bring in a professional tester for the #1920sMakeoverATL project to be sure and confident in the results, especially since his tests did seem to suggest the presence of lead.  Scott shows how he can test multiple areas easily and accurately with his infrared camera without causing damage to the materials. For a simple maintenance task or project, a DIY kit might suffice, but for a more complex renovation where more areas need to be tested, the camera can test as many areas as needed, again without damage.  



To learn more about lead health hazards, visit:
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

For more on pre-construction testing at the #1920sMakeoverATL Deep Energy Retrofit:
Radon and Vapor Control Layers in the 1920sMakeoverATL Showhouse: Pre-Project Testing (Video)
Asbestos Testing at the #1920sMakeoverATL Deep Energy Retrofit Project







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