Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lead Testing

Warning:  This test kit has an expiration date!  It must be checked prior to purchase.  Solution 2 needs to be checked regularly to ensure it is still active.  A negative test result will occur if the solution is inactive!

My wife and I have a newborn.  We have a very old house.  Lead is guaranteed to be present.  I purchased a lead test kit in hopes of identifying which rooms have lead.  As our child grows and starts to go places, as well as restoration efforts continue, I need to ensure that my child's safety is first.

The lead test kit I purchased initially from my local hardware store is called D-Lead by Klean Strip.  The kit has an expiration date on it as I realized too late.  A new test kit purchased from a home improvement store will cost you around $30.  My kit specifically was $30.81 after tax.  This product is one of two or three kits approved by the EPA for the homeowner to use to test for lead based paints (as seen here: EPA - Approved Lead Test Kits).

The kit is a miniature chemistry set.  There are two chemicals enough for six tests, a razor blade, a brass paint capturing tool, a plastic plunger, paper for collecting samples, surface preparation wipes and  a disposal bag.  There is also a set of test indicator strips for double confirmation of a negative result.

The test seemed confusing at first, but the directions were simple enough (once read).  The process took 15 minutes the first time, much less for successive tests.  First, using the included wipe, the surface to be tested is cleaned as are the utensils used to capture the sample.  The brass capturing tool is then placed on the spot with a paper collector underneath to capture what isn't captured by the tool.  Either a light tap with a hammer or pressure twisting by hand cuts through the layers of paint.  What doesn't easily fall out onto the paper below is pushed out of the tool by the plastic plunger.  The sample should be smaller than a pea-sized circular cut.  Using the razor blade, the sample is cut into quarters, poured into the clear bottle of solution one and shaken for 10 seconds.  Five drops of solution two are added and the mixture is shaken again for 10 seconds.  Wait 10 minutes to ensure breakdown of paint.  If lead is present, the color will be darker than the sample color on the solution 1 container.  If lighter, then there's no issue.

If the sample is not black, but not clear, you are now in a "gray" area.  Comparison to the color on the solution one bottle is simply one's interpretation and the test results, personally, I would consider invalid.  Don't risk your family.

I took a sample from the parlor's south window and wall as well as the baby room's window.  Here is my result (there were many sample vials, these are typical):
Negative Lead Result

The yellowing is the additive from Solution 2 as opposed to the initially clear vial.  The brown rectangle is the Test Standard.  If the mixture in the vial is darker than the Test Standard, you are positive for lead, if lighter, then you're negative.  I was excited to find negative results thus far.  The test indicator strip was used to test the quality of Solution 2.  Placing one drop of Solution 2 onto the indicator strip would result in a black coloring for "good to go" and clear if there is an issue with solution 2.  A number is provided by Klean Strip should the that arise.

I then tested the exterior paint.  The original color of our home was most likely white, at least that what the paint chips indicate.  And that color can be seen as the current paint is bubbling and peeling off.  Seeing how other aspects of this home were dealt with, I assume that the surface was not prepared prior to painting.

A sample was taken from the exterior paint and trim around the windows separately.  I mixed both the existing paint color and the underlying white paint together, not because I am lazy (though I can be), but because it was impossible to separate.  Here was the result:
Positive Lead Result

Positive for Lead.  Bummer.