Lead In Water

POSTED BY on Feb 16 under Lead Awareness

IMG_0690I’ve had quite a few phone calls since the story of Flint Michigan’s lead fiasco hit the news. I regularly collect and send water samples for analysis. Water is considered to be lead contaminated at and above 15 parts per million, that’s 0.0015% lead!  Fortunately the results here in the San Francisco Bay Area are usually good. Testing your water for lead and crossing your home’s water system off the list of potential sources for lead poisoning in your home will bring you peace of mind and a release from one source of worry.
Here are a few things you can do to reduce lead from your home’s water system:

  1. Update your faucets. Any faucet, angle stop (the valve located in the cabinet below the faucet), valve, pipe or fixture that was in your home prior to January 2010 may contain lead in un-safe amounts. All plumbing pipes, fittings and fixtures as of January 1, 2010 are now required to be “Lead Free”; lead free is .25% or less in the “wetted surfaces” (surfaces in contact with water). Faucets, fixtures etc. manufactured before January 1, 2010 may contain 8% or more lead in the wetted surfaces of the fixtures.
  2. Never use hot tap water for any cooking or drinking. Hot water will leach, or pull more lead from your pipes and fixtures than cold water. Always start with cold water for any water that you and your family will consume.
  3. Do not use stagnant water; water that has sat in your homes pipes for an extended period (6 hours or more) will have had the opportunity to leach lead from your homes water components. Run your water until it gets as cold as it can before you use it consumption. In our time of drought, this makes me feel guilty so I catch the water in a pitcher or bucket and use it on my plants and such. Letting the water reach it’s coldest usually indicates its fresh from the main in the street should be as lead free as it can be.
  4. Use a filter certified by the National Science Foundation (NSF). You can check filters at this link:   http://info.nsf.org/Certified/DWTU/.
  5. This a little off topic, butt I just tested a bunch of ceramic dishware labeled “Lead Free” that contained high levels of lead in the glaze. Be careful of the products you purchase; anything made outside the  U.S and countries with strict lead regulations is suspect.
  6. Review my post on lead in bath tub glaze. If you have an old tub you may not want to bathe your children in it.

Lastly, if your diet is low in calcium and iron your body will retain more of the lead you ingest. Making sure your family gets plenty calcium and iron will help to reduce the amount of lead your body will retain. Lead is a metal as are calcium and iron, your body will put the lead to use in the same places that calcium and iron are used; which is just about everywhere!


Lead in Food

POSTED BY on Sep 16 under Lead Inspection

I recently tested some Turmeric (a spice used in curries etc.) for a customer of mine. Her family had recently had their blood tested and they all had elevated blood lead levels, her young sons  was well over 5 micro-grams of lead per deciliter of blood (lead poisoning level). She routinely received the spice from relatives in India that purchase it at a local farmers market. I sent a sample to the laboratory I use and the result came back at 920 milligrams per kilogram. This equals 920ppm (parts per million) lead or 920,000 micrograms. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) considers lead levels in food on a case by case basis.  As a comparison, lead levels higher than 50 ppm in juice is considered hazardous by the FDA.

We use Turmeric and purchase it from Penzeys spices (www.penzeys,com). My wife, seeing the lab results wanted our turmeric tested. I can test spices with my XRF analyzer; ours came back with no lead detected. My wife sent an email to Penzeys asking about their safety measures concerning contamination with substances like lead. She received a quick response; Penzeys tests all their products for lead and other contaminants.

Be careful where your food comes from, especially it is from out of the U.S. If it is not a known and reliable source like Penzeys (used as an example only) you may be taking a big risk with your family’s health and future. Very small amounts of lead will cause damage to our bodies, especially infants and young children. A one gram packet of sugar is equal to one million micrograms. You can see it wouldn’t take much of the lead contaminated turmeric added to your dinner to have a significant impact on your family.

Lead in Recycled Building Products

POSTED BY on Feb 25 under Lead Awareness

contaminated mulch   This is a photograph taken by one of my clients. After testing their backyard for lead contaminated soil I recommended they cover the soil with a barrier (weed cloth or other suitable material) and cover it with shredded bark or another mulch material. This is an inexpensive and acceptable control measure where soil is contaminated.

The property owner, in trying to save money found a source for free mulch made from recycled building materials and had  it installed in the back yard.  As soon as the mulch was in my client noticed that much of the material was painted; a sample was sent to a lab and it tested positive for lead.  The lead dust in this mulch is highly mobile and more toxic than the soil it covered.

Please use caution when when you bring any recycled/re-purposed building material into your home or rental property. If you do not know  how old it is, where it comes from or whether or not it has been tested for lead contamination then do not bring into your home. The risk to children and adults is not worth the savings or liability.  Any used building material from 1978 or older may contain lead-based paint; the older the object, the higher the percentage it will contain lead-based paint.

This incident has been costly to correct and should not have happened. If you are a business that  recycles/re-purposes used building materials I highly recommend implementing a testing protocol to detect and keep lead-contaminated building components from being re-used. It will save you the embarrassment and liability from lead-poisoning children,  their parents, and the workers who came into contact with the contaminated materials.

Lead in Bathtub Glaze

POSTED BY on Dec 5 under Uncategorized

April 10 2013 pics 519   I just read an article in the Dallas Morning News by Valerie Wigglesworth regarding lead in old bathtubs. Lead can leach into the bath water and be ingested by children as they are bathing. If you have an older tub it  should be presumed to have lead in the glaze and to be leaching lead into the bath water. The tub can best be tested for lead by an Inspector using an XRF analyzer.

I would follow the advice in the article and either replace the tub or have it refinished.

This is the URL for the article;


Lead Paint Inspection San Jose CA

POSTED BY on Jan 3 under Lead Inspection San Jose CA

Don's Phone Pics 605I did my first lead inspection of  2013 in San Jose Yesterday.  I’m happy to say that the house is free of  lead-based paint. This San Jose home was built in 1971 on the east side of San Jose. It was recently purchased by a young couple who are expecting their first child.
They wanted to be certain their newborn will be safe from lead hazards and I am delighted to be able to provide them with the results of this lead inspection.

If you have a home built before 1978 there is a probability that it contains some lead-based paint. If you have a family or are planning a family it is a great idea to have your home tested for lead-based paint and the hazards from deteriorated lead-based paint. The picture on the left is from a house in San Francisco. I tested this wall and found it was indeed lead-based paint. There was a large quantity of paint chip debris in the yard that would be accessible to any children playing in the yard.

We service San Jose as well as the rest of the Bay Area, if you are interested in having your home inspected for lead-based paint call or email us and we’ll provide you with an estimate to perform your lead-based paint inspection. We also test for lead dust, soil contamination, and lead in the water system. We can also test toys and other consumer products for lead as well.

Lead Based Paint Inspection, Documentation

POSTED BY on Aug 27 under Lead Paint Inspection Information

Lead-Based Paint Inspection Drawing

There are seven documents that make up a Lead-Based Paint Inspection report. In an earlier post I showed an example of HUD Form 7.1, The Single Family Housing LBP Testing Data Sheet.  Form 7.1 is all of the results from the XRF testing of your home.

Bay Area Lead Detectors measures and produces a CAD drawing for each lead-based paint inspection. Every Positive result is indicated on the drawing by placing the reading number from column “A” of HUD Form 7.1 with an arrow pointing to the location where the reading was taken. This enables you and anyone you hire to work on your home to quickly find the components that contain lead-based paint. This drawing also shows all of the components that were negative for lead-based paint since the reading numbers for those components are not on the plan. If it doesn’t have a number it’s negative for lead paint. If we’ve performed Insitu Soil Analysis or collected Dust Wipe Samples, their locations will be on the plan as well.

I’ll show examples of the other documents in upcoming posts.

Click on “Sample Drawing” below to see an example drawing.

Sample Drawing


New Childhood Lead Poisioning Limits

POSTED BY on Feb 1 under Lead Paint Inspection Information

Childhood Lead Poisoning Photograph

I read an article in my local paper recently that a federal government advisory committee is considering lowering the definition of lead poisoning for children from 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood to 5 micrograms per deciliter. The article was from the Associated Press and was written by Mike Stobbe.  The article was titled: New Lead Limits Proposed. The Lead Poisoning Threshold was lowered in 1991 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 25 micrograms per deciliter to 10 micrograms per deciliter. Dropping the Childhood Lead Poisoning level to 5 micrograms per deciliter tells us that it doesn’t take very much lead in blood to cause young children health problems.

Lead can be present in residences in the U.S. that were built prior to 1978.  Ingestion of lead dust is the main cause of childhood lead poisoning. Lead dust is caused by lead based paints. It comes from deteriorating lead based paint; when lead based paint is disturbed or broken during repairs and renovations; when surfaces are impacted (closing doors,  floors, stair parts etc.); and from friction when painted parts rub against each other such as opening and closing windows.

If you live in a home or apartment that was built prior to 1978 and are concerned about childhood lead poisoning, having your home tested for lead based paint is the way to identify lead hazards in your home. Certified Inspectors can test your home for lead hazards and help you determine ways to reduce or eliminate them.

Lead Paint Testing

POSTED BY on Jan 6 under Uncategorized

I just read the January 3’rd NARI National News Weekly LRRP Corner. There was a question:”Is Lead Paint Testing Required under LRRP?”

The Answer: “No. A firm may always assume the presence of lead-based paint and proceed in accordance with all LRRP requirements.”

As a Contractor I thought “That’s great, I get to deal with the LRRP requirements on just about every job I do”.  As a Lead Inspector my thought is ” If contractors have their projects tested for lead paint they’ll only have to deal with the LRRP requirements on the building components that test positive. They won’t have to deal with the LRRP requirements on the projects and components that test negative”! I’ve tested many residences here in the San Francisco Bay Area. And I haven’t tested a house yet that has had every building component test positive. Lead Paint Testing is a great tool for contractors working on  homes that fall under the Lead Renovation and Repair Rule. As an example I had a contractor who was demolishing a building’s interior and only had to deal with the LRRP requirement for the interior wood work. All of the plaster surfaces in the building tested negative for lead. This was a huge savings for the contractor and his customer.

If you are a contractor working on homes that fall under the LRRP requirement look into Lead Paint Testing, it will save you time and money on your projects. It will also tell your customers and your employees that you are serious about their safety and welfare.

Lead Paint Inspection Vs. Risk Assessment

POSTED BY on Aug 24 under Lead Paint Inspection Information

1948 Farm house with lots of lead paint

This post was plagiarized recently. When searched for you are taken to the site that stole this article even though they have removed it from their site. So I’ve decided to re-post it in hopes that you will be brought here.  Thank You reading!

I’ve been asked, “What is the difference between a lead inspection and a risk assessment”?  A Lead Inspection is a surface by surface investigation to determine the presence of lead-based paint as described in Chapter 7 : Lead-Based Paint Inspection, of the HUD guidelines (Google Chapter 7, HUD Guidelines to read more). A Risk Assessment is an on-site investigation to determine the existence, nature, severity, and location of lead hazards as described in Chapter 5 of the HUD Guidelines.

Which one is best for you? The lead paint inspection will produce a result which will tell you every component (doors, windows, walls, etc) that has lead paint and also every component that does not have lead paint. XRF results will tell how much lead is present and how deeply it is buried. If you are purchasing, remodeling, or planning any work on a pre-1978 home this inspection will be very useful. It will save you time and money in complying with the EPA’s RRP Rule.

A Risk Assessment does not test every component in the house, it focuses on the existing condition of the house, identifies potential lead dust producing hazards, tests for lead dust and lead contaminated soil around the house and in children’s play areas. It will also give suggested methods for controlling and or correcting those hazards. Some lead testing, either by XRF analysis or sampling is performed, however it is more limited than the lead paint inspection. If you are renting a property, have small children, or are pregnant or plan to have children the risk assessment may be more beneficial.

The lead paint inspection and risk assessment can also be combined to provide a thorough finding of both where the lead paint is, what the hazards are and how can they be controlled or eliminated.

Lead-Based Paint Inspection Results, 2

POSTED BY on Jun 23 under Uncategorized

I get many questions about where the lead is in a given test result. If you look at the previous blog entry you can see a sample LBP Testing Data Sheet which contains the readings from the XRF Analyzer. Column “O”  Contains the Depth Index for each test result.   The results will be from 1 to 10.  There is not a specific depth for each number. The number is a numerical value indicating the amount of non-leaded paint (if any) detected by the analyzer. A Depth Index less than 1.5 indicates there is very little non-leaded paint covering the lead-based paint, or the lead is very near the surface layer. An index of 1.6 to 4.0 indicates a moderate amount of non-leaded paint is covering the detected lead-based paint. Depth indexes greater than 4.0 indicate the lead-based paint detected is deeply buried under layers of non-leaded paint.


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