|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
You can obtain several kinds of lead test kits at local hardware, home safety, or discount stores. Most of these tests change color and will tell you if lead is present, not how much lead is present. Normally, these tests are used to say no it is not present" OR " it should be tested by a better method". Lead is checked by either chemical testing at a lab or by XRF (X-ray) testing in the field. An XRF instrument costs $15,000-25,000 and takes training. The chemical test can be done with a spoonful of paint chips for $8-10 each. If you have tests done, the results will tell you if it is lead based paint. The cutoff is 0.5% lead. Call the EPA hotline number at 800-424-LEAD for info and booklets. For a science project, you could test several neighborhoods with the test kits to see where lead may be present. As a licensed lead inspector, I can tell you to check the windows, especially outside, porch columns, etc. Walls are not usually painted with lead paint.
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