Dust Wipe Sampling

Understanding Lead Dust Hazards

Lead dust forms when lead-based paint begins to chip, crack, peel or is otherwise disturbed. Lead paint chips and dust can get on surfaces and objects that people touch. Our inspectors use dust wipe sampling to determine if lead dust is present.

Changing Regulations

In July 2023, EPA proposed updating the dust-lead hazard standards (DLHS) and dust-lead clearance levels (DLCL). The proposal would change the DLHS for floors and window sills to any reportable level greater than zero, as analyzed by any laboratory recognized by EPA’s National Lead Laboratory Accreditation Program.

The new DLCL would be 3 micrograms per square foot (μg/ft²) for floors, 20 μg/ft² for window sills and 25 μg/ft² for window troughs.

How Much Lead Dust Is Acceptable?

Under the proposed regulations, any amount of lead dust found during an initial inspection will result in a failure.

The new Dust Lead Clearance Level would be 3 micrograms per square foot (μg/ft²) for floors. To visualize this, we’ll use a penny for comparison. A penny is 2 grams, 1 gram is a million micrograms so if we took just half a penny split into a million pieces:

Half of a penny split into a million pieces looks like this.

Just three of those tiny particles would cause a dust wipe failure on floors

The EPA offers guidance for homeowners to reduce exposure to lead dust. Per the EPA, it is especially important for property owners to:

  • Maintain all painted surfaces in good condition.
  • Clean frequently using a wet mop, cloth or sponge to reduce the likelihood of chips and dust forming.
  • Use a lead-safe certified renovator to perform renovation, repair and painting jobs to reduce the likelihood of contaminating your home with lead dust. 
  • Find additional resources from the EPA here.

What Happens During A Dust Wipe Inspection?

Dust wipe inspections are required in municipalities with increased incidences of elevated blood lead levels in young children. Our inspectors will take a moistened towelette and wipe surfaces throughout your rental. These samples will be sent to a lab for analysis. If the analyzed samples contain below the current hazard level then a Lead Safe certification will be issued.

Lead Safe certifications are good for 3 years unless there is a tenant turnover after 2 years.

What Happens During A Dust Wipe Inspection?

  • Our inspectors will need access to the interior of the rental unit. This includes any area of the home that the tenant can access such as hallways, basements and shared laundry rooms.
  • Exterior areas such as porches are not part of the inspection.
  • The technician will select four rooms from the dwelling unit to dust wipe with a focus on areas where children spend their time (bedrooms, living rooms and kitchen).
  • The inspection report will be sent to the property owner 10 days after the inspection is complete. Reports can be expedited for an additional fee.
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