Hand held XRF lead paint tester

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

If you can want immediate results when testing lead paint then you need a handheld XRF instruments such as the Thermo Scientific Niton XRF analyzer These handheld XRF analyzers can measure lead paint, dust wipes, soil samples, and air filters. They also enable you to address the safe work practices that are required in many commercial/industrial structures and they have demonstrated proficiency in the ELPAT Program.

You can see how US customs use a Niton XRF analyzer to test toys for lead paint in the video below.

The Thermo Scientific Niton XLi and Niton XLp 300 Series analyzers are the world’s most effective XRF analyzers for lead paint inspection and risk assessment and can also be used as multifunctional tools to measure lead in other types of samples. Using its 109Cd source and taking advantage of lead’s L shell fluorescent x-rays the XLp 300 Series XRF analyzer can be used to measure dust wipes, soil samples, and air filters.

Lead poisoning information – New York NYC

Friday, November 25th, 2011
The mission of the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) is to prevent and control childhood lead poisoning by:

Promoting the early detection of lead poisoning through effective screening.
Under the Blood Lead Level Reporting Requirements all medical providers must report blood lead levels of 10 mcg/dL or greater for all NYC residents within 24 hours.

Providing the necessary services for lead poisoned pregnant women, children, their families, and their health-care providers.

Promoting public and private action to prevent lead poisoning by reducing children’s exposure to lead hazards in the environment.

For more information the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Lead Poisoning Prevention Program and the services they provide or what you can do to help prevent lead poisoning, call 311.

Further NYC lead information

Report to the New York City Council on Progress in Preventing Childhood Lead Poisoning in New York City, 2010 (PDF)
Lead in Household Plumbing FAQs (PDF)
New York City Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program — Annual Report 2009 (PDF)

Lead still in paint report finds

Thursday, November 24th, 2011
Lead and lead compounds in paint have been banned in the US since 1977. However lead is used as anti-corrosive pigments and driers in architectural or household paint by some paint manufacturers the EcoWaste Coalition states in its report.

Tests in 2010 revealed 69% of the 35 paint samples contained large quantities of lead.

One paint sample contained 161,700 parts per million of lead. The US regulatory limit for lead in paint is 90 ppm.

In July the EcoWaste Coalition also checked children’s toys and found that 30% percent of the 200 toys tested contained toxic metals such as lead, antimony and cadmium.

All the more reason to buy lead paint testing kits for the home.

For more details on the lead paint testing report click the link.

Dangerous lead levels in nearly two-thirds of New Orleans homes, report states

Sunday, November 20th, 2011
A new report states nearly two-thirds of New Orleans homes and yards have “dangerous” levels of lead, which may be linked to the demolition and renovation of homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Lead based paint
The high levels of lead are due to dust from lead-based paint as most of the homes were built before 1946 and lead-based paint was not banned until 1978. The report was published by researchers from the Tulane School of Public Health.

“New Orleans children are at risk for elevated blood lead levels, including children who were not considered at high risk previously and for whom lead reduction has been considered a public health success,” the study stated.

Felicia Rabito led the study and said that efforts to test the lead levels of all New Orleans’ children must be stepped up, either by making such testing mandatory for admittance to New Orleans’ schools, or by pressuring primary care physicians to do such testing.

She went on to say, “We need people in the city to understand the risk of lead poisoning and take ownership,” Rabito said. “If they see someone sanding, they should ask them to stop and inform them of the dangers, and then inform the city.”

If you have a high concentration of lead in the blood it can affect the central nervous system, blood cells and kidneys. The resultant effects can reduce IQ, cause hyperactivity, reduce stature, cause headaches and hearing problems.

However as there may be no obvious symptoms the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend lead in blood screening for children aged 1 to 6.

For more information about New Orleans lead poisoning click the link.

Lead poisoning of kids – “A civil rights issue”

Friday, November 18th, 2011
16,600 kids have been documented as having lead poisoning in Connecticut. These kids are all under 6 years of age and the results are only based on a blood lead screening rate of 25%. Plus they’ve been given no educational guidelines either from the state or the federal government.

As a result of this Vivian Cross who is the executive director of the Foundation for Educational Advancement spoke at the 15th African-American Women’s Summit and stated “This is a civil rights issue for our kids.”

The shocking lead poisoning statistic is from a lead poisoning report for the state that was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control between 1997 and 2006.

“In 2006, we surveyed 26 school districts across the state,” Cross stated “They did not know there was a relationship between early childhood lead exposure and learning disabilities, criminal behavior, developmental delays and unfortunately, a higher rate of death.” She also said that she wanted to see infants, toddlers, children and youth who have been affected by lead poisoning to receive federally mandated services.

According to Cross’ paper, 250,000 children across the United States suffer from lead poisoning, which has no obvious symptoms ans so is difficult to spot however the child could having learning disabilities, become irritable, have hyperactivity, or lose their appetite.

Cross also noted that there are no requirements for a school to be lead safe and therefore the state is not fulfilling its duty to students by not enforcing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (I.D.E.A.). If they did they would get the children the learning support and assistance they require.

For more information about the lead poisoning in Connecticut click the link.

Are you planning to buy or rent a home that was built before 1978?

Saturday, November 12th, 2011
Many houses and apartments that were built in the USA before 1978 were painted with paint that contains a high lead content. Lead that is in paint, paint chips, and dust can cause serious health problems if it isn’t dealt with correctly.

Federal law now requires that individuals receive information before they can rent or buy a home that was built before 1978.

Landlords have to tell the prospective tenant about the existence of lead based paint and lead based paint hazards before the lease takes effect. The lease has to contain a disclosure form that states information about lead based paint.

People selling a home have to tell the prospective buyer about the existence of lead based paint and lead based paint hazards before selling a home. The sales contract has to contain a disclosure form that states information about lead based paint.

The buyer has up to 10 days to check the home for lead hazards.

You can find more information about the lead paint disclosure program buy clicking the link.

Tips to avoid lead poisoning

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

This video gives good tips on how to avoid lead poisoning in the home.

Lead in Kids

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Kids lick toys, walls any anything that comes in reach. As lead paint is often sweet tasting children like to lick it even more. As lead is more readily adsorbed in children and affects their mental health it is a good idea to test your toys and paint for lead.

How to take a paint sample for lead testing.

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011
Certified Renovators are now allowed to take paint chip samples under the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule.

This is a quick summary of how to take a paint sample for lead testing. For a complete guide please refer to ASTM E 1729 standard.

You should aim to take a 4 inch square piece of paint without any of the underlying material. The paint should then be sent to an EPA recognized laboratory.


Place a 4X4 foot piece of plastic underneath the sampling area in order to catch dust or debris. Tape a sheet of heavy stock paper, fold it and tape it beneath the sampling area to catch the paint. Measure and mark a 2 X 2 inch area on the paint. The area should be reasonably accurate (within 1/16 of an inch).

Put any supplies and tools you may use inside the plastic and put on disposable boots, gloves and a N100 respirator.

Taking the Paint Sample

1. Score the outside edge of the area to be sampled with a utility knife.
2. Soften the paint with a heat gun holding the it about 6 inches or more away. Be careful not to burn the paint. As the paint begins to soften and/or blister scrape the paint into a plastic container. All the layers of paint that are present should be taken. Try not to disturb the substrate material.
3. Place all the dust and debris from the folded piece of paper into the plastic container.
4. Similarly place all the dust and debris from the plastic sheeting into the plastic container.
5. Seal the plastic container and label it. The label should state where and what component was the sample came from and the street address should also be on the label.

Repair Sample Area

Repair the sampled area to the customer’s requirements.

Cleaning up

Clean all your tools and supplies with a wet wipe (preferably a d-lead wipe or equivalent).
Remove the paper, disposable boots, gloves and the plastic sheeting and put it in a plastic trash bag.
Use wet wipes to clean the area. If the area is carpeted make sure you use a HEPA vacuum to clean up.

Laboratory Paperwork

Most laboratories use chain of custody forms that are completed before the samples are delivered. Keep the laboratory results for a minimum period of 3 years and always give the client a copy of the laboratory results.

Analysis Cost

The laboratory test is relatively quick so the cost is only $10 to $20 for each sample that is tested.

For more information check out Blogging Painters

What are the different methods for analyzing lead paint?

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
Older paints (pre-1977) can be as much as 5% lead by weight (50,000 ppm), and a single 1 cm2 paint chip might contain 175 µg of lead. Current standards for paint are a lot more prohibitive, allowing only 600 ppm lead in paint, resulting in the same size paint chip containing only 6 µg of lead.

There are three main lead testing methods for determining the lead content in paint:
1) Analyze the paint for lead in situ by using an inexpensive chemical lead testing kit.
2) Determine the quantity of lead in paint in situ using a portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF)
device. This is a non-destructive test.
3) Obtain a paint sample and determine its lead content in a laboratory using various
analytical techniques. This is a destructive test.

These lead testing techniques are explained in the next sections,

Chemical lead testing kits
You will find a selection of chemical lead testing kits available, from simple qualitative tests to more advanced
semiquantitative tests. Many rely upon a colour change to indicate the presence of lead
over a specific lead concentration. In the simplest lead testing kits, the result is either positive (i.e. lead is
present and above a particular concentration) or negative (i.e. lead is not above a certain
concentration). The tolerance content level for the colour transformation depends upon the lead test kit that is used and could be affected by the health and safety regulations of the country or region in which the test is sold. In the USA, for instance, lead test kits should be able to detect concentrations above 0.5% lead by weight (5000 mg/kg).

The less complicated lead test kits either test the paint by utilizing a swab soaked in a chemical that is rubbed on the painted surface or require the removal of a chip of paint that is then mixed with chemicals in a test tube. More sophisticated spot test kits use fluorimetric or photometric techniques on the paint chips.

Chemical lead test kits are relatively inexpensive and do not require specific training, although training
of the individual will give more reliable results. The final results are instant although the speed of colour change can be dependent on the amount of lead present. These kits possess a variety of limitations though. The kits may be used to test uncovered layers only. This means to test layers below the surface which may be more likely to contain lead, you have to score the paint surface or to take off a chip of paint (depending on the method).

For some lead test kits the colour change may be hard to observe, especially when you are examining dark paint colours. Typically, these kits cannot measure the amount of lead contained in the paint. This includes the semiquantitative
techniques that only give lead concentration ranges.

Finally, chemical lead test kits may possibly indicate that lead is below a certain concentration when it actually is above (false negative result). The USEPA, for example, currently acknowledges only three lead test kits are compliant with the false negative qualifying criterion of the United States 2008 Renovation, Repair and Painting rule. All of these 3 tests are recommended to be used only by a licensed renovator for paint existing on specific substrates, and none of them is acknowledged by the USEPA for the false positive qualifying criterion of the Renovation, Repair and Painting rule.

Portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry
When lead is subjected to high-energy radiation it emits X-rays of a characteristic frequency. The strength of the X-rays corresponds to the amount of lead per unit area (usually expressed in units of milligrams per square centimetre). Usually regulatory standards for lead in paint are expressed in different units such as parts per million or per cent concentration by weight so the XRF results may need to be converted. Portable XRF instruments can measure the total amount of lead in a painted surface in situ without damaging the paint or the substrate material.

The accuracy of portable XRF devices is generally good, even though they have a larger error in contrast to laboratory analysis. Depending on their dimensions and characteristics, XRF systems do require a comparatively large and flat surface to carry out a measurement.

This technique is therefore especially designed to measuring flat paint surfaces such as walls, but is less appropriate to testing highly rounded or intricate surfaces ie most toys. Some new XRF instruments do get over these limitations though.

Portable XRF products are manufactured by several companies and are comparatively expensive, ranging in price from roughly US$ 10 000 to US$ 50 000, but need little maintenance and no consumables. The lead testing is extremely rapid (about 1 minute per test)

Laboratory analysis
This technique needs a paint sample to be collected.A minimum sample size of about 300 mg is generally required to conduct an analysis, although this is dependent upon the concentration of lead, sample preparation method and the analysis method. ASTM E 1729 standard recommends 4 square inches of paint be sent to the laboratory for analysis. The different methods of that are used in the laboratory to carry out lead paint analysis are described below.

Flame atomic absorption spectrometry (FAAS)
Atomic absorption spectrometry (AAS) is based on the principle that free atoms absorb light at wavelengths that are characteristic of the elements that are present. In the case of lead the wavelength is 283.3 nm. The quantity of light that is absorbed is directly related to the concentration of the particular element that is present within the test sample.

FAAS detection limits are adequate for the majority of instances. FAAS measurements are subject to some interference from light dispersing and molecular absorption by matrix elements, which can be effectively corrected by various techniques. FAAS devices, which need some laboratory expertise to operate, are widely available with or without autosamplers. The primary instrument cost is relatively low, and consumables, for example argon gas, are comparatively cheap. Maintenance requirements are fairly low, and sample lead paint testing rate may be several tests per minute.

Graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry (GFAAS)
GFAAS is an AAS method that makes use of an electrically heated graphite tube to vaporize and atomize the lead paint at temperatures up to 3000 °C prior to its detection. GFAAS instruments have very low detection limits and require only very minimal digest volumes (about 20 µl). GFAAS measurements are often subject to significant interference from light scattering and molecular absorption by matrix elements, but this may be adequately remedied using many approaches, including the use of matrix modifiers. GFAAS devices need to be run by properly trained laboratory technicians.

GFAAS devices are widely available and need autosamplers to increase precision and throughput. The initial equipment cost is intermediate, and maintenance and consumable costs can be expensive. Lead paint sample throughput is approximately one sample every 2 to 3 minutes.

Inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES)
ICP-AES uses an inductively coupled plasma (an ionized gas consisting of electrons and protons) source to dissociate the sample being tested into its component atoms or ions. Under these high-energy conditions, lead along with other elements emits light at its characteristic wavelengths. The amount of light emitted can be analyzed and corresponds to the amount of lead in the sample. ICP-AES instruments provide the advantage of being capable of determining several elements concurrently.

The detection limit for lead is intermediate, but still adequate to quantify lead accurately in paint at typically observed concentrations. Sample volume requirements are moderate. Some spectral interferences are typical, but can be corrected. ICP-AES instruments must be operated by trained laboratory personnel. The initial piece of equipment cost is high, but the major consumable is only argon gas. Repairs and maintenance costs are relatively high due to the
complex design of ICP-AES instruments. Sample throughput is intermediate, typically about one test per minute.

For more information check out