Science Wednesday: Verifying Test Kits That Help Get The Lead Out

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By Julius Enriquez

How old is your house? If it’s older than 32, it probably contains some lead-based paint. This is a concern here in Cincinnati, where I live, since most of the houses here predate 1978.

EPA estimates there are 37.8 million housing units and child-occupied facilities built before 1978 still in use.
The ingestion of household dust containing lead from deteriorating paints is a common cause of lead poisoning in children. Lead may cause a range of health effects, such as behavioral problems and learning disabilities. High levels of exposure can even result in brain damage or death.

Simple and reliable tests and screening kits are needed.

EPA’s Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) Program, in collaboration with the Agency’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT), recently completed testing four portable test kits designed for use by paint contractors. The ETV program verifies the performance of innovative technologies that have the potential to improve protection of human health and the environment.
Four new technologies, each designed to provide paint contractors with portable test kits, were tested using an ETV approved test/quality assurance protocol.

Researchers evaluated the test kits on wood, metal, drywall and plaster surfaces coated with known lead paint concentrations. Kits were also evaluated for cost, speed of results, and ease of use.

What was learned? Based on the ETV testing, OPPT recognized one of the four kits, and added it to a list of two others currently recognized by EPA. Contractors know that they can rely on kits on the lists for safe practices under the Agency’s Lead, Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule, put in place in April to protect kids and adults from lead exposure resulting from home renovation projects.

This week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. I’m happy to be contributing to projects that help me and my 3.7 million closest neighbors keep our kids lead free.

About the author: Julius Enriquez has been working for the EPA since 1999 and works with the Environmental Technology Verification Program ( of the National Risk Management Research Laboratory in Cincinnati, Ohio. Julius served as the work assignment manger for the ETV testing of the lead test kits.

Note: For more information regarding the recognized kits, please go to

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