Banning of Lead Based Paint

Since 2012 proActive Safety Services has been training the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renovate, Repair, and Painting Initial and Refresher courses. Often, when our students show up for class, they say: I am here for the lead test class. To me, it is interesting that people know the RRP class as the lead test class. One of the major components of the certification is learning how to test for lead in buildings built before 1978.
Until the pandemic, we were able to distribute 1 lead check swab, and a confirmation card to every student in the class. Around December of 2021 we started to notice that the lead check swabs were unavailable from our supplier. Since then, the problem has gotten worse. Looking into the reason for the shortage online, it seems that there is a shortage of the raw materials that are used to manufacture the test.
Since then, I have been fielding several calls and texts wondering what they should do since the lead check swabs are no longer available. There is only one option available. Before I describe that option let’s dive into when and why you should be testing for lead.

The story of lead-based paint in old houses.

In 1978 the consumer products safety commission banned the sale of lead-based paint. However, it was in the late 1800s when scientists discovered that lead in paint dust was toxic to humans. Most of the industrialized world removed the lead from their paint. However, one of the greatest things about living in America is we can fight what the government does to us. That is exactly what the paint manufacturers did for almost 80 years.
In 1950, the paint manufacturers started to develop a bit of a conscience and removed the lead from the interior paint. Nonetheless, the paint manufacturers did an amazing job of convincing the American people that lead based paint was a superior product, people would still use the exterior paint on the interior of their properties. In 1972 the government stepped in to regulate the amount of lead in the paint. What does all this mean?
The older the house, the better chance you are going to have lead-based paint. For example, if the house was built before 1950 you will have about a ninety percent chance that there will be lead. After 1950 that number drops to about 70 percent, and after 1960 most people are aware of the dangers of lead-based paint and are no longer using it in their homes as that number falls to about 25%.

When does it make sense to test for lead-based paint?

In most cases you can assume that lead-based paint is present if the house is built before 1950 and proceed in a lead safe manner. After 1950 and before 1985 are the dates where you will most likely find paint that isn’t contaminated with lead. These are the years where testing would make the most sense.
Therefore, you can assume that lead based paint is present in houses built before 1950. Furthermore, you may want to consider testing if the house is built after 1950 and before 1985. If you are working on a HUD project, you aren’t allowed to test and would need to bring in a Risk Assessor if the house receives more than five thousand dollars per year in government assistance for their rent.
Beware, testing is at the discretion of the property owner and not you as the contractor. Always prepare two estimates before you test. One estimate will be the price to work in a lead safe manner. The other estimate would be the price if there isn’t lead. This gives your customer the ability to choose if they want you to test. Which is important, because if they don’t have knowledge of lead-based paint on the property, you don’t want to create it as the contractor.

Since the lead check swabs aren’t available, what can we use instead?

The EPA recognized test kit that is available to purchase is called the D Lead Test Kit. If you would like to purchase the test kit, click here for the 7 pack, or here for the 24 pack. . There are two major drawbacks to the D Lead Test Kit. First, they expire which the Lead Check Swabs do not. Secondly, the test solution literally smells like a stink bomb. Therefore, the D Lead Check Swab will tell you if there is lead if used by a Certified Renovator.
If you have any questions about this process, please feel free to reach out us by emailing [email protected] or dial 877-209-9648. To register for an upcoming EPA RRP Initial or Refresher Training Course please click here to visit our training calendar. Are you looking to have a group of people trained? We love to travel and, in most cases, can teach the course at your office or warehouse.