Lead paint: Testing your paint for lead

Painted surfaces that your child has chewed, or woodwork in your child's room, are good areas to test. Woodwork, such as doors, windows, or trim will often have high levels of lead in the paint. Any area that is peeling is also a good choice. Any room that you want to remodel should also be tested before the work is started.

Samples from different areas should be kept separate.

  • Use a knife to scrape sections of paint, at least the size of a quarter, down to the bare wood or plaster. Do not take the wood or plaster with your sample or your paint results will not be accurate.
  • Put the samples in clean, ordinary plastic bags. With a permanent marker, write where you got the sample from on the bag.

Send the samples to a lab certified by your local health department. A list of certified labs is available from your local health department.

Testing your Children

Children aged 9 months through 5 years are at the greatest risk for lead poisoning. Most children with lead poisoning do not look or act sick. Ask your doctor to perform a blood lead test on your children. This is the only way to know if they are being lead poisoned. Your doctor should explain the results of the test to you. Most children will have a test result below 10 ug/dL. If you or your doctor need more information about lead poisoning, call the local health department.

If you have Medi-Cal, your regular doctor or clinic can order the blood tests to check for lead poisoning, if appropriate. Many private health insurance policies will also cover the cost of this test. Whether or not your family has insurance, your children may qualify for free health examinations through your local Child Health and Disability Prevention (CHDP) program. To find out if your child is eligible for CHDP testing, call your local health department.

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