The only sure way to know if paint, water, soil, or dishes contain lead is to test them. There are 3 ways to do this:
1. One is to use a relatively inexpensive home lead test kit available at most paint and hardware stores. These have some limitations and will tell you only if lead is present on the surface that is tested, not how much is present. In 2008, the EPA started reviewing home lead test kits for accuracy and has recognized some as being reliable when used properly. Their findings can be found on the EPA website.
2. The second is to take or send a chip or sample to a New York State Certified Laboratory (List can be found on the left sidebar). Contact the lab first for their preferred sampling technique. When many different surfaces of a room or building are being tested, it is advisable to hire a certified Lead Risk Assessor or Lead Inspector to ensure that proper sampling technique is being used.
3. The third is to have an on-site inspection and testing done using an XRF (X-ray fluorescence) tester. A lead inspection means a surface-by-surface investigation to determine the presence of lead-based paint and the provision of a report explaining the results of the investigation. This should be done by a certified Lead Inspector or Risk Assessor.
Find a contractor that is Lead-Safe certified.
Last updated February 17, 2015