Ana-Lab is certified by the Texas Department of Health and uses the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines for the evaluation and control of lead-based paint hazards in housing.

What is lead? Where is it found?

Lead is a bluish-gray, soft metallic element used in many household and industrial items from brass fixtures, batteries, and fine crystal to paint. While lead-based paint in homes built before 1978 is the most common source of lead hazards, many other sources do exist. Lead can be found in drinking water due to lead plumbing or lead solder; it may be present in food stored in lead crystal, lead-glazed pottery or porcelain; it may be in the soil where paint has peeled from the building or where leaded gasoline has spilled, or in areas where hunting or fishing equipment is stored.

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What are the Health Hazards?

Lead poisoning occurs when lead has been introduced into the bloodstream by ingestion and inhalation of lead dust or fumes. It replaces the calcium and/or iron in the hemoglobin. Children under six years of age are at most risk because of their rapidly developing bodies. Lead can be stored in tissue and bones for several years and may reach the toxic level later in life. The normal level of lead in the blood is 0-10 ug/dl, a person has lead poisoning when blood levels are above 15 ug/dl, and levels greater than 45 ug/dl are considered medical emergencies where hospital treatment is advised. One hundred to 150 ug/dl is lethal in children. Children with high levels of lead in their bodies may suffer damage to the brain and nervous system, behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, and headaches. One in six children in the USA has unsafe blood-lead levels, one in eleven has dangerous blood-lead levels. Over 1.7 million children now have blood-lead levels above safe limits, mostly due to exposure to lead-based paint hazards. If you suspect that you have a lead problem, have your children checked by your physician.

Adults may suffer from difficulties during pregnancy, other reproductive problems (both men and women), high blood pressure, digestive problems, nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems, and muscle and joint pain. Lead poisoning may have been a contributing factor in the fall of the Roman Empire.

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What are the appropriate testing methods?

Chemical Spot Testing
A solution is applied to a painted surface which causes a chemical reaction (indicated by a color change) if lead is present. This test is quick and inexpensive, but it is not accurate. This test determines lead is present but not how much is present. It is also destructive; paint must be scraped to test lower level of sample.

X-Ray Fluorescence
This method involves expensive instrumentation which exposes a radioactive source to a surface to determine the percentage of lead. Results are immediately available and usually accurate depending on the training of the operator. It is expensive and may encounter some difficulties when sampling irregular surfaces or different subsurface materials such as brick or metal and may require laboratory verification.

Paint Chip Sampling
This method calls for cutting paint chips as samples to be sent to a laboratory for analysis. The advantages include its accuracy because these samples are analyzed in a laboratory. It is destructive and can take several days to get results.

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What can be done to prevent or reduce residential exposure?

If lead is present in your home you may reduce your risk by cleaning up paint chips immediately.

Clean floors, window frames, window sills and other painted surfaces weekly with warm water and a tri-sodium phosphate based cleaner (1/2 cup automatic dishwashing liquid to 1 gallon of water). Rinse with clean water and a different mop/sponge.

Rinse sponges and mop heads thoroughly after cleaning.

Wash hands often, especially before meals and snacks, at nap time, and bed time.

Keep play areas clean; washing bottles, pacifiers, toys, and stuffed animals regularly.

Keep children from chewing window sills or other painted surfaces.

Clean shoes before entering to avoid tracking in lead from soil.

Eat nutritious, low-fat meals high in iron and calcium.

See also:

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How can lead-based paint be cleaned up?

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What regulations for lead exist?

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What are my responsibilities and liabilites?

EPA Website’s Lead section, see links in the section “Protect Your Family” and “Renovate Right for Contractors and Trainers”

Real Estate Disclosure

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Where can I get more information?

Texas Department of State Health Services, Laws and Rules – Environmental Lead Program

Texas Department of State Health Services – Environmental Lead Program website

EPA Website’s Lead section

EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting Program

Lead Hotline – The National Lead Information Center

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