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QUESTION: Is there an easier/cheaper way to find out if there's lead in paint, besides the Comprehensive lead test kit?  08/02/10 New South Wales, Australia

My daughter and son-in-law are renting a very old house in Wollongong, NSW. All the internal walls and ceilings are painted boards. We don't know when the house was last painted, but the paint is flaking and my daughter is worried that it might be lead-based paint. Is there an easier/cheaper way to find out besides the $250 test kit?

Many thanks


ANSWER: Feb 8 2010

Dear Julie,

you will find a list of stockists of Lead Check kits on our website (these are colour change kits that cost about $30 - $40 for two tests, which turn pink if there's more than 0.5% lead in the paint) but we suggest that you phone around to ask if they are in stock before heading out to buy one.

The colour change kits are also mentioned in our "Lead paint & ceiling dust management - how to do it lead-safely" - and that factsheet also contains a lot of other good advice on managing lead paint, such as a link to a list of lead-trained painters.

I will also email you our Info Pack on Renting and Lead (which is soon to be web-published) from which you can pick out what information to present to the landlord or agent about how you want them to deal lead-safely with the paint, if it turns out to be leaded. Some owners/agents are difficult to convince about their duty to clean up leaded peeling paint on the basis of a colour change kit and having results from a lab, in writing, is a big advantage of our kit, which also gives you a comparison of your laboratory results to the Australian Standard on Lead Paint Management. (Much harder to argue with!)

We recommend our kits to landlords (in DIY-sampling / lab analysis lead kits) which states: "Landlords can be confident they are renting out lead-safe premises if they have used a kit to test dust on floors and windowsills, and in garden soil." Thus, a good solution is a combination of the Lead Check colour change kit and our kits. You could purchase the cheaper kit just to prove to yourself whether there's lead in the paint (keep the pink test stick just in case the landlord is sceptical) and then, if there is lead in the paint, put in writing to the landlord that you want the landlord to fix the problem and then to also do clearance testing to be sure that the soil and dust are lead-safe following the repainting. Clearance testing (that is, testing lead in dust wipes and soil) cannot be done with the colour change kits and is best (and most cheaply) done with our kits. It's the clearance testing that determines if the home is lead-safe for children.

If the owner/agent purchases our kit, you should request that the tenants be present when s/he uses the instructions to collect dust wipe and soil samples, and that they jointly put the kit in the post together (so there can be no doubt that the results that are emailed to the owner/agent - or whoever purchased the kit - actually definitely relate to the premises in question).

It's a bit of a process but that's the only way to ensure the home is lead-safe.

I hope this helps.

All the best

Yours Sincerely

Elizabeth O'Brien

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