Lead was once used in many different applications around the home, including paint, soil, plumbing and pipes. Each use requires a distinct form of testing.
Lead paint is one of the most common forms of exposure in the home. In fact, real estate transactions under the FHA loan program require lead-based paint screenings during inspection. It is considered the most common concern in homes built before the 1970s. Wall paint and some plaster tints used to contain lead as a binding agent. A lab test can be done in the home to determine how much lead is in the paint in parts per million.
Remediation techniques involve total removal or mitigating techniques such as encapsulation or lowering exposure due to environmental conditions. Each technique should be determined based on the wear and tear of the home as well as the test results of household products throughout the home such as paint.
A lead abatement strategy is very similar to asbestos abatement. This involves completely removing the lead-based product from the home as efficiently as possible. Usually, a home inspection can determine the possibility of lead exposure, but a risk assessment is more thorough and can lead to discussions about whether there should be abatement.
The work area for abatement is typically based on the existence of extensive amounts of lead-based paint in the home. The most common forms of abatement are enclosure, removal and replacement. The enclosure method uses a wall covering or paneling to cover the area. Replacement and removal sound similar, but replacement involves completely replacing the lead paint with new material. It's typically done around windows and doors. Removal is a more risky procedure that involves loose dust and on-site vacuum systems. These vacuum systems contain a HEPA filter and require all sealed openings to be closed to avoid going into the furnace system.
Encapsulation is an encasing technique that covers the lead paint in a liquid solution to prevent further flaking into the environment. The products used for encapsulation typically start at $35 and up per container.