Sherlock's Environmental

Services, LLC

St. Louis, MO                                                                                                      FREE Estimates      314.849.5819

FAQs

Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions page.  We have provided answers to the most common questions our clients may have. If you find that your question is not on this page or you require additional information, please call 314.849.5819 or E-mail us at info@leadtestingstl.com.


WHAT IS LEAD?

Lead is a naturally occurring element found in small amounts in the earth’s crust. While it has some beneficial uses, it is a neurotoxin that interferes with the development and functioning of almost all health aspects of humans and animals causing dangerous medical conditions.

WHERE IS LEAD FOUND?

Lead can be found in all parts of our environment – the air, the soil, the water, and even inside our homes. Much of our exposure comes from human activities including the use of fossil fuels including past use of leaded gasoline, some types of industrial facilities, and past use of lead-based paint in homes. Lead and lead compounds have been used in a wide variety of products found in and around our homes, including paint, ceramics, pipes and plumbing materials, solders, gasoline, batteries, ammunition, and cosmetics.

WHY TEST FOR LEAD PAINT?

When lead based paint degrades, flakes, or is abraded, lead dust is formed. This dust may not be visible to the naked eye. Lead dust is ingested by hand to mouth activities or is breathed in; the lead then enters the blood stream causing potential medical complications.

HOW BAD IS LEAD PAINT FOR MY FAMILY?

When lead paint is disturbed, either through building repairs and renovations or chipping and peeling of paint caused by age, it is released into the air and becomes a health risk, especially for kids.  Lead can enter the bloodstream by ingesting contaminated dust, eating paint chips, or breathing fumes or dust from sanding or torching. Symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Hearing problems
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Trouble with digestion
  • Reproductive problems
  • Difficulties in pregnancy
  • Loss of memory and concentration


According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), nearly one million school-aged children have blood lead levels high enough to be a health risk.  Some estimates claim up to 20% of children under 6 years old have unacceptably high blood lead levels.  The problem is worst among the poor who tend to live in under-maintained older buildings. Children, especially those under two years old, are extremely sensitive to lead. In addition to the health problems listed above, children exposed to lead may develop:

  • Damage to the brain and nervous system
  • Reduction in I.Q. levels
  • Learning disorders
  • Behavioral problems
  • Slowed growth

HOW MUCH LEAD DOES IT TAKE TO GET LEAD POISONING?

The amount is incredibly small...

Pretend to take a packet of sweetner and seperate it into one million equal piles, take only five of those piles and mix them into half a cup of liquid (throw the other 999,990 piles away).

The resulting half of cup of liquid is how much lead it takes to poison a child!


There are often no immediate symptoms and even a child that appears healthy can have dangerous levels of lead in their blood.  Lead dust can be invisible and so tiny, in fact, that it can pass through most masks & filters.  Don't live dangerously.  Test your children and your environmet!

DO ALL HOMES BUILT BEFORE 1978 HAVE LEAD PAINT?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, lead paint can be found in:

  • 11% of homes built from 1960-1978
  • 39% of homes built from 1940-1960
  • 67% of homes built before 1940

If the paint is in good condition and has been painted over, it usually doesn’t pose a problem. But if the paint is peeling or has been disturbed by scraping, sanding, or burning, it can pose significant health risks to people and pets, especially young children.

CAN I REMODEL MY OWN HOUSE IF IT WAS BUILT BEFORE 1978?

Yes, but only if you hire someone to do the work. Due to new laws, any work disturbing painted/coated surfaces on pre-1978 houses MUST be done by state licensed or EPA  certified contracors and must follow Lead Safe Work Practices (LSWP). LSWP involves sealing off the work area, ensuring no dust escapes the area, then a complete cleanup, with an expensive HEPA vacuum, must be accomplished. If we come in beforehand and determine there is no lead based paint, then LSWP can be avoided and results in a large savings of time and money.

WHO SHOULD CONSIDER A LEAD PAINT INSPECTION? 

  • People considering renovation, remodeling or demolition work that would disturb painted surfaces and may generate lead dust hazards unless proper precautions are followed.
  • Home sellers desiring specific information about lead for marketing purposes.
  • Home buyers or renters who want to know how much lead paint is present and its location (or who feel strongly that they want a home that contains no lead-based paint).
  • Rental property owners seeking exemption from the federal lead disclosure requirements by demonstrating that a specific property does not contain lead-based paint.
  • Rental property owners who might need or desire documentation about lead-based paint for insurance, financing, or other reasons.
  • Those facing a state or local requirement to abate all lead-based paint.

SHOULD A HOME BE TESTED FOR LEAD BEFORE I PURCHASE IT? 

YES!  Lead is a chemical substance often found in soil, pipes and in the paint on the walls of homes built during or before 1978. If you are remodeling or buying a home built before 1978, you have the right to ask for a lead test. If you live near an industrial area, it's also possible that the soil around your home could have an influx of lead in it and should be treated immediately to avoid your children getting sick.

WHERE IS LEAD BASED PAINT COMMONLY FOUND IN A HOME?

Lead based paint could be found in any painted or sealed surface. The areas that are more hazardous are surfaces that are subject to friction and or impact. Today, most children are poisened by ingesting leaded household dust.  This dust is created when lead paint deteriorates from age, exposure to elements, water damage and/or friction -- such as opening of windows or rubbing of a tight door.

CAN I INSPECT MY OWN HOUSE?

The EPA strongly recommends that lead tests be done by either a certified lead inspector or a certified lead risk assessor.

There are home lead test kits available. However, they use chemicals that change color to indicate the presence of lead. They’re less expensive than a full inspection or assessment, their accuracy is questionable, and they don’t provide the detail that an inspection or a risk assessment gives.


You may also collect your own paint samples and send them to a lab for analysis. However, the samples you collect may not be as complete as the samples a certified professional would gather.

WHAT IS A XRF ANALYZER?

X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) uses protable detectors that X-Ray a painted surface to measure the amount of lead in all the layers of paint.  This type of testing is done in a home and disturbs little, if any, paint.

HOW DO YOU TEST FOR ASBESTOS & LEAD? 

Sherlock's Environmental Services Inspectors and Assessors are licensed to handle all Asbestos & Lead-related projects that may range from an interior and exterior risk assessment to inspections on large multi-story structures. The three primary methods we use when conducting lead inspections include surveys with XRF analyzers, risk assessments, and hazard screens. When our Lead Inspectors and Assessors perform a survey, they study samples of all exterior and interior painted surfaces, as well as wallpapered-areas, and test them with an XRF analyzer that does not damage or disturb the paint. When we detect lead paint using a risk assessment, our inspectors examine the property for deteriorating paint. We take samples of the paint, dust and any soil in the area surrounding the building, which are sent to a accredited laboratory accredited. Our assessors also make a physical evaluation of the cause and extent of the damage to the paint. Hazard screening is a method that is very similar to risk assessment; however, it is not as in-depth.


When a home or commercial building tests positive for the presence of lead paint or asbestos, we will provide you with a timely report & discuss tips on pursuing stabilization and / or lead abatement firms. 

DO I NEED A LEAD PAINT INSPECTION OR RISK ASSESSMENT? 

If you plan on renovating or repainting a single building, your approach would be to take representative paint samples and determine the levels of lead that exist. If you are working with a number of buildings at the same site or near each other, it may be best to hire a paint inspector for the testing. The inspector should get the job done rather quickly at a reasonable cost, and should provide thorough results. If living quarters are involved, and especially if work will be done inside the building, it may be best to combine a paint inspection and a risk assessment. This will protect not only the construction workers, but also the building's occupants. The combination of a paint inspection and a risk assessment is especially important if children use the building. Remember, paint inspections and risk assessments are not required for repainting or renovation jobs in nontarget buildings. However, you must know if you are working with lead-based paint to comply with OSHA's Lead in Construction and RCRA's hazardous waste disposal rules.

WHAT IS A LEAD PAINT INSPECTION ? 

A paint inspection is defined as a surface-by-surface investigation to determine the presence of lead-based paint and report its location. A paint inspection will provide answers to two questions:

  • Is there lead-based paint on the structure?
  • If lead-based paint is present, where is it located?

A paint inspection identifies the presence of lead-based paint, but does not determine whether the paint presents an immediate hazard. Dust and soil samples are not usually collected as part of a routine paint inspection.


If a paint inspection is conducted, it should be performed by a certified inspector or a certified risk assessor. The recommended method of paint inspection is by portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) instruments. The cost will vary depending on the number of buildings, the number of surfaces to be tested, and the distance the inspector will need to travel to the site.

WHAT IS A RISK ASSESSMENT? 

A risk assessment is an onsite investigation to discover if any lead-based paint hazards exist. A hazard is a condition that causes exposure to lead that would result in an adverse health outcome. The assessments also provide recommendations for reducing exposure to the lead hazards. Certified risk assessors must perform risk assessments.


Risk assessments go beyond simply assessing the condition of the paint, and take into account resident use patterns and management or maintenance practices that will affect the paint. Risk assessments also identify other potential sources of lead hazards, such as dust and soil.


The cost of a risk assessment will vary depending on the number and condition of the buildings being assessed. A risk assessment has four major components: onsite data collection, laboratory analytical procedures, evaluation of findings, and the final report.

  • Onsite Data Collection--The onsite data collection begins with an overall visual assessment of the site. The visual assessment should identify deteriorating painted surfaces, areas of visible dust accumulation, areas of bare soil, and painted surfaces at impact points (such as door jambs) that could create lead dust. After the visual assessment is completed, dust samples are collected from specific sites and sent to an accredited laboratory to determine the amount of lead. If deteriorating paint is observed or if the assessor believes a hazard exists, the paint will be analyzed by X-Ray Fluorescence or by taking paint samples. Soil samples may be taken in areas of bare soil in outdoor play areas, building foundations or drip lines, bare pathways, etc. Water samples may be taken, but are not required for a routine risk assessment.
  • Laboratory Analytical Procedures--Paint, dust, and soil samples are analyzed only by accredited laboratories.
  • Evaluation of Findings--The goal of risk assessment is to determine whether any lead-based paint hazards are present. If lead hazards are found, the risk assessor will identify acceptable options for controlling the hazards.
  • A final report is given to the client containing the findings.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU FIND HIGH LEAD LEVELS IN MY HOME? 

There are different solutions to handle lead paint and all are not expensive. There are ways to manage lead paint hazards rather than removing it. In fact, removing lead, if it's done improperly, can create more problems than you had in the first place. In each Risk Assessment report we describe both temporary and permanent methods of dealing with the hazards. There are strict standards set by the EPA for the levels of lead allowed. Lead removal and abatement must be done by certified professionals who have passed rigorous training. This is, in part, why lead removal and abatement can be very expensive. However, lead is very dangerous and must be taken care of.  Our professional inspectors can provide you with valuable information you can use in seeking out a lead abatement contractor.

HOW DOES THE LEAD GET REMOVED? 

Removing the lead depends on where it is. With lead paint, there is a risk of it chipping and becoming airborne. Most lead paint abatement can be done by sealing the old paint. In some cases the old paint must be removed before repainting. Lead in your pipes can be transferred into your water supply. Lead in your soil can be consumed by your children. Lead is in the varnish of your wood floors can be scuffed and become dust in the air. For every instance of lead there is a unique test and removal process.


Each one of these will carry a different cost that professionals will outline before proceeding with the removal. The testing and removal of toxic lead is expensive but straightforward. A pro will charge you per square foot of wall, yard, floor or pipe for the lead removal and so you will know your costs upfront.

WHAT IS RRP? 

Due to new laws, any work disturbing painted/coated surfaces on pre-1978 houses done by contractors or landlords, must follow the EPA Renovaye, Repair and Paint (RRP) requirements . RRP involves sealing off the work area, ensuring no dust escapes the area, then a complete cleanup, with a expensive HEPA vacuum, must be accomplished. If we come in beforehand and determine there is no lead based paint, then RRP can be avoided and results in a large savings of time and money.

WHAT IS A CLEARANCE EVALUATION? 

Clearance is performed after hazard reduction, rehabilitation or maintenance activities to determine if a unit is safe for occupancy. It involves a visual assessment, analysis of dust and/or soil samples, and preparation of report. A certified risk assessor, paint inspector, or clearance technician (independent from entity/individual conducting paint stabilization or hazard reduction) conducts clearance.