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  QUESTION: Bathroom Floor Lead Paint Removal, 29 Jan 2006, South Australia

We have a painted floor in our bathroom, which may contain lead paint (our house is quite old, built in around 1950). I was hoping that you could direct me to some information on how I can find out whether the floor is painted with lead paint, and if so what we can do to make it safe.
Thanks for your help,
ANSWER: 08 Feb 2006

Dear Madam,
It is common for paint on old homes to contain significant amounts of lead, particularly in those homes built prior to and around World War II. To test for the presence of lead in paint, there is a do-it-yourself test kit available on the market for preliminary screenings and a couple of distributors who I hope are close to you, (but phone first to find out if they have Lead Check kits in stock) see:
Stockists of Lead Spot Test Kits - Australia in postcode order If none of your local stores has Lead Check in stock, you can ask them to buy them wholesale from Air Met in Melbourne - unfortunately Air Met will not sell direct to the public - ph 1800  000 774. These inexpensive kits will get you instantaneous results that tell you if lead is present in paint above 0.5% Pb. They use a chemical reagent that changes colour when exposed to lead, which will indicate whether there is lead present by turning pink or red.

The disadvantage of such a kit is when some home surfaces have been painted over, because the kit only tests for the surface layer instance of lead. It is recommended that when using these kits, that one cuts down to the original layer of paint with a knife. The kit works best with surfaces that have been painted white. One must also note, that when using the test, that the sample only indicates whether lead is present; they can not tell you how much lead there is. Nor are they sensitive to low levels of lead. (Stapleton, Richard, (1994), "Do-it-yourself Testing for Lead Paint", Lead is a Silent Hazard, p.43, Walker Publishing Company, U.S.

If you lived in the USA we could tell you that there is a list of certified private companies that will test for the presence of lead in your home for you. They either use XRF analyser to measure the lead directly in the home, or else test paint samples in the laboratory. Things to consider when hiring a professional:

*Have the workers completed an EPA training course;
*How many spot tests / samples will be conducted;
*What method will they use to test the paint;
*Is the company certified, and by whom;
*How much information will be provided by them, e.g results, written reports, positive/ negative or actual reading, professional interpretation of results; and
*How much will the whole survey of the area tested cost. (Stapleton, p. 44)

We only know of one consultant in Adelaide who specialises in doing lead assessments: Mike Van Alphen of Lead Sense - ph 0882417055, mob 0418 844192 (business hours only - often he works out of mobile range).

For information about the process of remodelling, repainting, and the abatement of lead on the surface of your bathroom floor, please read The Six Step Guide To Painting Your Home by Environment Australia which I have attached for you in PDF format with this reply.

Josephine Tesoriero,
Volunteer Information Officer

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