Remodeling or painting a pre-1980 building? Get it tested for lead!

Wiping a sample for Lead testing

Collection of environmental dust wipe samples for analysis of lead.

Lead Inspections for Bay Area

Lead InspectionHealthy Building Science conducts lead inspections for commercial, residential and public buildings. Our lead consultants are certified through the Department of Public Health (DPH) to conduct Lead Assessments and monitor building projects. We perform lead testing of air, dust, drinking water and bulk materials. Lead paint is only part of the equation when it comes to an expert lead survey.

Who Needs a Lead Assessment?

When do you need a lead assessment? Anytime there is an “impact” or renovation on older finishes a lead assessment is used to evaluate the risk of poisoning or worker/occupant exposure. The EPA considers 1978 and older buildings “targets” for lead inspections. If you’re about to remodel or paint a pre-1980 building – you probably need an assessment.

Other reasons for an inspection include visibly damaged paint surfaces, known high blood-lead levels, or if occupants are high risk such as children, immune-compromised, or the elderly. An frequent catalyst for finding a lead consultant is when blood-lead levels are found to be high and nobody knows where heavy metal exposure originates.

Lead Risk Assessment — If there are significant sources of lead exposure such as peeling paint and lead dust, or an individual has high blood-lead levels or is suffering symptoms of lead poisoning it probably warrants a Lead Risk Assessment. This is a formal, comprehensive examination of the building and includes lead paint, dust, soil and water lead sampling. This is most helpful when you need to know know where lead exposure is originating but have no idea of the source.

Lead Testing Services

There are two parts to lead testing: sampling and lab analysis. Most states (including California) require those collecting samples be certified through a state agency. Unless someone is certified and trained in lead sampling techniques, we would not suggest they try to collect lead samples. Unless it is your building you are prohibited from lead sampling without proper lead training and certifications. Lead lab analysis should only be done by an accredited laboratory. Formal lead testing may include any of the following:

  • Air Testing for Lead
  • Bulk Materials Testing for Lead
  • Dust Testing for Lead
  • Soil Lead Testing
  • Lead Paint Testing
  • Water Testing for Lead

Worried about Lead Paint?

Lead Inspection and AssessmentThe EPA states that lead-based paint is still present in millions of homes, sometimes under layers of newer paint. If paint is in good shape, the lead paint is usually not a problem. Deteriorating lead-based paint (peeling, chipping, chalking, cracking, damaged, or damp) is a hazard deserving immediate attention. We strongly recommend healthy paints.

Lead is also a hazard when found on surfaces that children can chew or that get a lot of wear-and-tear, such as:

  • Windows and window sills
  • Doors and door frames
  • Stairs, railings, banisters, and porches

Be sure to keep all paint in good condition and clean up dust (wet wipe or mop) frequently.

Lead in household dust results from indoor sources such as deteriorating lead-based paint. Lead dust can also be tracked into the home from soil outside that is contaminated by deteriorating exterior lead-based paint and other lead sources such as industrial pollution and past use of leaded gasoline. Read more about lead dust.

Renovation, repair or painting activities can create toxic lead dust when painted surfaces are disturbed or demolished. OSHA has long regulated lead disturbing activities for worker protection, but the EPA’s “RRP” (Renovation, Repair and Painting Program) is presently the best known motivator for safe lead practices during construction activities.

Lead in Older Buildings

The EPA states that if your home was built before 1978, there is a good chance it has lead-based paint. In 1978, the federal government banned consumer uses of paint containing lead but some states banned it earlier. Dust from old lead paint is the most common cause of childhood lead poisoning.

If your home was built before 1978 have your home tested for lead and learn about potential lead hazards. Fixing hazards that you have may be easier and less expensive than you fear. You can get your home checked in one or both of the following ways:

Lead Paint Inspection — Tells you the lead content of every different type of painted surface in your home, but does not tell you if the paint is a hazard or how to deal with it. This is most appropriate when you are buying a home or signing a lease, before you renovate, and to help you determine how to maintain your home for lead safety.

Lead Risk Assessment — Tells you if there are any sources of serious lead exposure such as peeling paint and lead dust, lead piping or lead-based solder, naturally occurring lead in water or soil, etc. An assessment is very comprehensive and often includes sampling for lead-based paint, dust, soil and water. Reports include what actions to take to address any hazards found.


Lead Consultant San Francisco Bay Area

A good lead consultant will advise which type of lead survey and lead testing methods are appropriate for your specific project. Any pre-demolition project is a slam dunk for a lead survey, but an occupant with elevated blood-lead levels and no on going construction would trigger a more involved lead assessment.

A California lead expert will have one of the following certifications:

  • Lead Inspector/Assessor – An individual who assesses the degree of total lead hazard in residential or public buildings before, during, and/or after lead-related construction work.
  • Lead Sampling Technician – An individual who collects samples under the supervision of a certified inspector/assessor.
  • Lead Project Monitor – An individual who oversees lead-related construction work in residential or public buildings ensuring that contract plans and specifications are followed, who evaluates lead-related construction work and who may conduct testing to determine if contamination is adequately controlled.
  • Lead Supervisor – An individual who is responsible for implementing lead-related construction work in residential or public buildings and enforcing work practices ensuring worker safety.
  • Lead Worker – An individual who performs lead-related construction work in residential or public buildings under the direction of a lead-related construction supervisor.

Lead Air Testing

Healthy Building Science offers air sampling services to test for lead in ambient air in buildings around the San Francisco Bay Area.  In addition to preliminary worker exposure evaluations, air sampling is useful at the end of abatement, renovation, or repair projects as part of a final inspection (“lead clearance”) of the abatement.

Lead air sampling will not tell if there is lead-based paint or other building materials that contain lead.  Only physical (destructive) sampling of the material itself and analysis by an accredited laboratory can provide that answer.  Air sampling may be useful if there is general concern about lead in the air or a suspicion that lead removal work was performed improperly.

Lead Dust Sampling

Another type of sampling involves surface wipe methods.  This can help determine background levels, ID possible contamination, or be utilized for clearance purposes at the end of an abatement, renovation, or repair project as part of a final inspection of the work. Since hand-to-mouth is the primary exposure pathway for lead in children, dust-wipe testing is often the most telling. A lead wipe test is a fast and inexpensive way to evaluate settled particulates for traces of lead.

Lead Inspection Regulations

These services can help comply with applicable regulations including the California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 17:

The General and Construction Industry Standard (CCR Title 8):

The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992

The HUD Guidelines: Guidelines for the Evaluation and Control of Lead-Based Paint Hazards in Housing

and the Renovation, Repair, and Painting rule (RRP):

Cal/OSHA requires safeguards for workers if any lead is present.

Because paint/material sampling is often destructive sampling, it may be prudent to sample only those materials to be impacted during the demolition/renovation activities.  If materials are not tested, the safest course is to avoid disturbing the suspect material and assume untested materials do contain lead.

Building materials that can contain lead include but are not limited to: exterior and interior paints, ceramic floor and wall tile glazing, vinyl mini-blinds, pipes, solder, shielding, cable covering, terne metal roofing, and brick mortar.

Lead Inspection San Francisco Bay Area Projects:

  • Hayward lead testing for building material and a hardware store
  • Richmond lead consulting for a manufacturing facility
  • San Jose lead test for a commercial office pre-demolition
  • San Francisco lead survey for a single family home with a child with lead poisoning
  • Oakland lead expert consulting for pre-purchase of a commercial building, and drinking water quality testing for lead in schools
  • San Mateo lead assessment for a medical office complex
  • South San Francisco lead paint testing for pre-demolition of affordable housing
  • Santa Rosa lead testing in soil after fires
  • Petaluma lead testing for a single family home
  • Santa Clara lead consultant for a high tech office before demolition
  • San Rafael water quality testing for lead in water

Lead Inspections San Francisco Bay Area

Healthy Building Science is an environmental consulting firm providing lead testing and lead surveys and consultation to clients located in the greater San Francisco Bay Area and all of Northern California. Cities we service include San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento, Santa Rosa, Hayward, Sunnyvale, Fremont, Concord, Salinas, Santa Clara, Berkeley, Vallejo, Fairfield, Antioch, Richmond, Daly City, San Rafael, San Mateo, Vacaville, San Leandro, Livermore and Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Marin County, Napa County, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Solano County and Sonoma County.

Healthy Building Science has a CDPH-Certified Lead Inspector/Lead Assessor.

Give us a call next time you need a Lead Inspection, Lead Survey, or Lead Testing  (415) 785-7986