Lead Sampling in Soil and Paint

Bring in your soil samples and paint chips to test for lead

For the third year in a row, Lamont research professor Lex van Geen and his students will be testing your soil samples for free at Open House. For the first time this year, you can also bring paint chips for testing. If possible, please provide some information about your soil or paint sample ahead of time using this form. We will test all soil and paint samples by X-ray fluorescence, an established method, but we will also demonstrate the use of field kits to screen soil or paint for lead. 

To collect the samples, use a spoon to scrape off the top few inches of soil and scoop it into a small Ziploc-style plastic bag or, preferably, a small paper bag so it dries. You could consider different types of areas: 1) areas where kids play on exposed soil; 2) areas where you’re growing food, if applicable; and 3) an area that you suspect might be contaminated, such as near your house or a shed that used to be painted. Label each bag with a marker, or by slipping a paper label inside. Attendees can bring a maximum of three samples per household.

For paint chips, focus on areas that might pre-date the 1978 ban on lead-based paint. A couple of nail-sized paint chips will be sufficient for a measurement. Again, place the samples in a labelled bag. To help target your paint samples, you may want to first screen them first yourself using the 3M or SCITUS field kits.       


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