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A closer look at our lead paint surveys and lead services

If you would like to find out more about any of Environtec’s services, please get in touch. With offices and laboratories across the UK, we can help you wherever you are located.

T: 01245 381900
E: enquiries@environtec.com

The Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 (CLAW) place a duty on employers to prevent, or where this is not reasonably practicable, to control employee exposure to lead.

Employers must identify and assess the risks and identify those tasks where they are going to use lead or create lead dust or fume. 

They must pay particular attention to situations where “significant exposure” is expected.  “Significant exposure” means exposure in the following circumstances –

  • Where any employee is or is liable to be exposed to a concentration of lead in the atmosphere exceeding half the occupational exposure limit for lead
  • Where there is a substantial risk of any employee ingesting lead 

These tasks may include:

  • Stripping or preparing leaded paint from doors, windows etc
  • Hot cutting of lead or leaded paint in demolition and dismantling operations
  • Blast removal of old leaded paint

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM 2015) specifically require that the Principal Designer (or Principal Contractor on small jobs) must assess any lead paint hazards and include that record in the Health & Safety file for contractors.

Lead isn’t that much of a problem, is it?
This couldn’t be further from the truth. There is no safe level of lead in the body, so any and all exposure has its health implications. Whether inhaled or ingested, lead as a toxin is cumulative and difficult to excrete, and can lead to damage to the kidneys and the nervous system, not to mention infertility and behavioural and developmental issues in children.

Lead was added to paints right up until the 1960s and widely used in the development of homes, schools, and offices before it was completely banned from commonly used paint in the early 1990s. It is often found underneath existing paintwork in older buildings and is likely to be disrupted and exposed during renovation works on buildings from these eras. It’s worth noting that lead from historic traffic emissions is also still present in dust.

Why might you need a lead survey?
Any refurbishment, redecoration or demolition project must abide by the regulations detailed in the Control of Lead at Work Act 2002 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM 2015). Failure to do so may result in prosecution by the HSE. There is no law saying you need to have a lead survey carried out at your premises, but you ARE required to assess the risk of lead at the property – and the only way to do this is to commission a survey.

If you’re already taking the necessary precautions against lead exposure, you don’t need a survey. Right?


You may be wasting time, money, and resource with unnecessary precautions. Your contractors would find it in their best interests to discover which areas are hazardous and which are not.

The solutions available from Environtec
We offer our clients a full range of lead surveys and lead services, including:

  • XRF surveys
  • Paint chip testing
  • Dust sampling and testing
  • Air monitoring
  • Soil testing
  • Clearance testing
  • Training

XRF lead paint surveys
Handheld portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF) instruments measure the amount of lead on a painted surface by exposing the surface to high-energy radiation. The radiation causes lead to emit x-rays at a characteristic frequency. The intensity of the rays is measured by the instrument’s detector and converted to a number that represents the amount of lead per unit area (usually in milligrams per square centimetre)

Surveys can be provided as one hour “snapshot” survey or multi-day surveys and are written up in summary reports with recommendations. The costs and duration of XRF surveys depend upon a number of factors, including the distance, the size of the job, and number of laboratory samples needed.  

The advantages of XRF surveys:

  • The XRF instrument can tell immediately if the paint has lead in it and how much lead is present
  • Immediate results allow for immediate reporting to the client, facilitating a rapid response to any hazard identified
  • Testing is non-destructive and does not damage the painted surface
  • It’s a fast and non-disruptive solution that’s ideal for heritage or listed buildings
  • It is the best method when many surfaces or buildings need to be tested, as large numbers of readings may be taken in a very short space of time

Paint chip testing
Laboratory analysis of paint chip samples measures the amount of lead in the paint by weight. The weight of lead in the sample is compared to the weight of the entire sample and is reported back as a percentage. Results are expressed as a percentage % or parts per million (ppm).

Environtec will accept client supplied samples for analysis or provide on-site sample collection by trained personnel. Please note that, if you are planning to arrange these samples yourself, poor quality sample collection may lead to poor quality results. 

Lead in dust testing
Lead from disturbed lead paint and other sources can commonly be found in dust. Wipes are used to collect samples for analysis at a specialist accredited laboratory, and results are presented as micrograms per square foot.  

Evidence of lead dust levels can be used to baseline prior to commencement of work and for clearance testing at completion.

Lead in soil testing
Lead-contaminated soil can pose a risk through direct ingestion, uptake in vegetable gardens, or tracking into homes. Soil may become contaminated from deteriorating external paintwork that’s falling to the ground or from debris created by refurbishment work.  

Environtec will accept client supplied samples or provide on-site sample collection by trained personnel for analysis at a specialist laboratory.

Clearance testing
We provide post-works clearance testing using dust wipe analysis to ensure any levels of lead dust on site are below agreed threshold limits.

Air monitoringIf there is a significant exposure risk, then air monitoring is mandatory. We can offer air monitoring equipment rental with pump hire. Filters are processed by a specialist laboratory.

Environtec offers a Lead Awareness Overview course (half day) to clients wishing to understand the lead regulations and issues surrounding the subject, and how to address these.

With HSE visits and prosecutions on the rise, you need to make sure you are taking adequate precautions where lead exposure is concerned. Get in touch with the team here at Environtec today to discuss your requirements in more detail and get assurance that you’ve got the right procedures in place.

Get in touch

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Head Office

T: +44 (O) 1245 381900
E: enquiries@environtec.com

Environtec Wales

T: +44 (0) 1633 262922
E: enquiries@environtec.com

Environtec Central

T: +44 (O) 1623 757189
E: enquiries@environtec.com

Environtec North East

T: +44 (O) 191487 3236
E: enquiries@environtec.com

Environtec Scotland

T: +44 (0) 1698 421898
E: enquiries@environtec.com

Environtec Ltd is a UKAS accredited testing laboratory (No. 0197) and inspection body (No. 2030).

Our accreditation is limited to those activities described on our UKAS schedule of accreditation.