Issue: 89 May 31, 2003
As a Realtor if you
don’t have a very clear understanding of
what constitutes an acceptable lead based
paint inspection and test you better read
this or you may be setting yourself up for
February 1st of this
year this newsletter topic was “Do you do
lead testing?” As part of the research for
that article I made contact with Jeffery W.
Dellinger. Jeff has a very long title:
Consultant, Health Hazards Control Unit of
North Carolina Department of Health and
Human Services Division of Public Health,
How is that for a mouth
full? The reason for my contact with Jeff
was to verify and get clear in my mind the
possible fine for improper lead based paint
testing in North Carolina. I didn’t get
what I was looking for, at the time,
therefore could not make as clear a
statement in that article as I had hoped.
Jeff asked if he could write an article on
the subject for this newsletter. I agreed
and here it is:
Limitations of Using Chemical Lead Test Kits
Conducting Lead Based Paint Inspections in
Chemical lead test kits
have been around for many years.
In fact, since the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) and the US
Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD) passed regulations in the mid to late
1990’s which address the lead hazards
associated with children, the number of
suppliers and the availability of these kits
Chemical lead test kits use one of
two basic chemicals for a color change to
indicate the presence of lead. The two basic
chemicals are (1) rhodizonate, which turns
from a clear color to pink or red and (2) a
sulfide-based chemical that turns from a
yellow color to a dark gray to black.
In a study conducted by
EPA in 1995, it was determined that chemical
lead test kits should not be used.
This decision was based primarily on
the fact that these kits produce false
positive and false negative results.
The kits were also not capable of
accurately assessing the presence of
lead in paint due to the substrates.
According to the
manufacturers, these chemical test kits have
been improved, which prompted HUD to sponsor
another study to evaluate these test kits.
In a study conducted in 2000, it was
determined that even though these kits may
determine the presence of lead at low
concentrations, they cannot quantify how
much lead is present.
This leads to false positive and
false negative results.
This is important because both EPA
and HUD use 1mg/cm2 as the level of lead in
paint when using an
X-Ray Flourescence analyzer (XRF).
Please note that the North Carolina
Department of Labor considers paint with any
detectable level of lead by analytical
procedures to contain lead and applicable to
the Lead in Construction Standard 1926.62.
Some other factors
which can affect your results when using the
chemical lead test kits are: (1) what type
of lead pigment was used in the paint, (2)
which chemical lead test kit to use with
certain substrates, and (3) operator error.
Based upon the studies
and problematic nature of these, kits the
North Carolina Health Hazards Control Unit (HHCU)
does not recommend the use of chemical lead
test kits to determine the presence of
lead-based paint when conducting real estate
transactions or as a precursor for
In May of 1996, both
EPA and HUD passed a law commonly known as
the “Disclosure Rule”.
This law requires the seller and
landlords of pre-1978 housing to disclose
any known lead-based paint and lead-based
paint hazards to buyers or renters. The law
also allows the buyer a 10-day period to
have a lead-based paint inspection or risk
assessment conducted at their own expense. It is important to know that the North Carolina Lead Hazard
Management Program rules, administered by
HHCU, requires individuals conducting lead
inspections in pre-1978 housing, to be
certified either as a lead inspector or lead
risk assessor and requires their company to
be a certified firm.
These certifications require initial
training, varying degrees of experience and
education, state administered exams,
refresher training, and program fees to
maintain the appropriate training.
Failure to be certified as a lead
inspector or lead risk assessor by the HHCU
could lead to a $1000.00 fine for each day
the violation continues.
Anyone wanting copies
of pertinent lead regulations or program
information on how to become a certified
lead inspector or risk assessor can contact
our office at (919) 733-0820. You can also obtain some information about our lead program
by visiting our website at (http://www.schs.state.nc.us/epi).
I hope you enjoyed this
insight direct from the source. It boils
down to this:
You had better be very
careful what you say to your clients about
lead based paint inspections and testing and
keep your hands off, and suggest your
clients keep their hands off, of those
little test kits. In a Real Estate
transaction you had better consider them to
be anathema (look it up!). Check that
testing guys credentials. If he pulls out
one of those little chemical test kits or
looks at you funny when you ask for
credentials, you had better run him out of
information on lead go here: