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Using X-Rays to detect lead paint

Posted on 2021-09-28 by Garda Design

Many older buildings; such as schools, factories and town halls, had the corridors, rooms and stairwells painted with lead paint in the past. But, if these walls have been repeatedly painted over, how would you know if lead paint existed?

Lead paint isn’t immediately dangerous if it’s covered. However, it can pose a risk to inhabitants or workers if the covering paint begins to peel or if there is a wholesale disturbance of the area.

We visit many buildings, of various ages, to survey the existence of lead paint. And our X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) instrument has helped us to identify where lead paint has been used in the past. These XRF surveys often detect a big difference in lead levels between high and low wall readings in older buildings. This is probably because there was a dado rail with two different wall colours, or even just a two tone paint scheme, which was previously popular.

<strong>How does it work?</strong>

The XRF instrument can penetrate through layers of paint to the substrate, without disturbing the paintwork. Nothing needs to be sent to a laboratory, because the XRF gives us an immediate reading. You wouldn’t be able to detect the lead levels with a visual inspection, so this method of working really is a safe way to provide this information.

Having the information from the survey ensures the old paint is treated safely during any refurbishment or renovation works. It also highlights which areas need monitoring for wear and tear.