When it comes to testing for lead in the real estate transaction, the most appropriate service is usually the Lead Hazard Screen. The Lead Hazard Screen is an abbreviated Lead Risk Assessment that can save the client considerable money, yet still provide the identification of LBP risks and guidance on how to control the risks.

LEAD HAZARD SCREEN - $360 with a Home Inspection - $460 without a Home Inspection

The full Lead Hazard Screen consists of:

  • 1) An evaluation of the conditions of the interior and exterior painted surfaces of the home.
  • 2) An evaluation of possible lead containing mini-blinds
  • 3) Two composite dust samples

If you are buying a pre-1978 property, then the Lead Hazard Screen should be considered a must. Identifying the possible hazards will educate and reduce elevated lead in the blood levels. This article was originally printed in the Provo Daily Herald Home Magazine.

Lead Hazard Screens Help Buyers and Landlords

Buyers and landlords of pre-1978 homes are now affected by the recent enactment of the federal Lead-Based Paint (LBP) disclosure rules. As of December 1996, sellers and landlords of pre-1978 homes have to disclose any knowledge of LBP that has been used in the home. They are also required to give buyers and renters the EPA pamphlet titled "Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home."

Sellers are required by Federal law to allow 10 days after the acceptance of the buyer's offer to let the buyers have an independent LBP evaluation performed. Buyers can then seek out, at their own expense, a Certified Lead Inspector/Risk Assessor to perform the necessary evaluations.

Landlords are also responsible to give their current and future tenants the lead disclosure form and the EPA pamphlet. Since most Utah County rental properties have no lead testing history, landlords are advised to have their units evaluated for lead hazards to protect their tenants.

The EPA recommends that buyers and landlords have either a Lead Inspection or a Lead Risk Assessment performed by a qualified professional. The Lead Inspection is beneficial to those property owners that are planning a major renovation. Many of the documented lead poisoning cases occurred during remodeling because of the lead dust produced throughout the sanding, scraping, and demolition phases of a remodel.

The Lead Inspection involves the use of an XRF analyzer which detects the presence of lead in the paint. The XRF tells you where the lead is but cannot tell you in what layer the lead paint resides. It also cannot identify if the condition is a current hazard. The Lead Inspection runs from $400-$800 depending on the size and condition of the home.

The second EPA recommended option is the Lead Risk Assessment (LRA). This is generally better suited to home buyers and landlords because it involves an evaluation of all of the interior and exterior painted surfaces of the property. The Certified Lead Risk Assessor is trained to identify sources of serious lead exposure in the home and to provide key information on what action needs to be taken to deal with those hazards.

The Lead Risk Assessment is very expensive and can run between $800-$1,200. Full LRA's can include dust, soil, water and paint sampling. However, because of the great expense there are very few home buyers and landlords who can afford to have the LRA performed. Full LRA's are generally not performed until there is a report of lead poisoning.

There are several different levels of a Lead Risk Assessment. The real estate market cannot afford either the Lead Inspection or the Lead Risk Assessment, so the EPA allows a cost effective Lead Hazard Screen (LHS). This is an abbreviated Risk Assessment and can only be performed by a Certified Lead Risk Assessor. With a cost of approximately $220 (or less when combined with a home inspection), the LHS identifies the lead hazards and gives the buyer and landlords the information they really need to know.

I have found that home buyers are very thankful for the information learned from a Lead Hazard Screen. Instead of running away from the sale after learning that their future home contains lead-based paint, I have found their confidence has increased in the home after learning how to control the existing lead hazards.

Home buyers and tenants with children under the age of six can greatly reduce the level of lead exposure to their children if they know what to do. Young children are more prone to lead dust poisoning because they pick up the dust on their hands and then place their hands directly into their mouths. You can't really stop youngsters from sticking things in their mouths, but you can reduce the amount of lead dust from their immediate environment.

Buyers and landlords of pre-1978 properties should consult a Lead Risk Assessor and seek out lead information to reduce the risk of lead poisoning. The above mentioned EPA pamphlet can be obtained by calling The National Lead Information Center at 1-800-LEAD-FYI.

(Michael Leavitt is trained by the Rocky Mountain Center for Environmental and Occupational Health as a Lead Inspector and Lead Risk Assessor. He is the owner of Michael Leavitt & Co Home Inspections. Column suggestions or inspection questions are welcomed by calling his office at 801-225-8020.)


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