Lead in Paint / Solids

What is lead?

Lead is a highly toxic metal that is found naturally in the earth's crust. It is used to produce many consumer products (like pipes, cars, electronics and batteries). Lead was once used in products like paint and gas, but the Government of Canada now restricts its use in many products.

Where can lead be found in the home?

Historically lead has been used in many household products including:

  • Paint – especially older homes
  • Plumbing – lead pipes or lead based solder.
  • Costume jewelry, art supplies.
  • Leaded crystal, glazes on ceramics and pottery.
  • Soil.

How can people become exposed to lead?

People may be exposed to lead by eating and drinking food or water containing lead or from dishes or glasses that contain lead. They may also breathe lead dust by spending time in areas where lead-based paint is deteriorating, and during renovation or repair work that disturbs painted surfaces in older homes and buildings. Working in a job or engaging in hobbies where lead is used, such as making stained glass. Babies and young children can also be more highly exposed to lead because they often put their hands and other objects that either contain lead or that can have lead from dust or soil on them into their mouths.

What are the health risks of lead exposure?

Lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body. Children six years old and younger are most susceptible to the effects of lead.


Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in:

  • Behavior and learning problems
  • Lower IQ and Hyperactivity
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing Problems
  • Anemia
In rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma and even death.
Pregnant Women:

Lead can accumulate in our bodies over time, where it is stored in bones along with calcium. During pregnancy, lead is released from bones as maternal calcium and is used to help form the bones of the fetus. This is particularly true if a woman does not have enough dietary calcium. Lead can also cross the placental barrier exposing the fetus the lead.  This can result in serious effects to the mother and her developing fetus, including:

  • Reduced growth of the fetus
  • Premature birth.
Other Adults

Lead is also harmful to other adults. Adults exposed to lead can suffer from:

  • Cardiovascular effects, increased blood pressure and incidence of hypertension
  • Decreased kidney function
  • Reproductive problems (in both men and women)

Analysis for lead at Paracel

Paracel Laboratories Ltd. can test for lead in paint and a variety of other solid materials.   In addition, Paracel can test for lead in water, drinking water, dust, air, and surface wipes.  Paracel is a fully accredited facility for lead analysis.

Collecting samples for analysis

For dried paint, about a Loonie sized area of paint chips are required for an accurate laboratory analysis. It is important to collect all layers of paint while minimizing the amount of underlying material included with the paint chips.  Save the paint chips in a new, food quality, zip lock bag and document the collection area on the outside of the bag before submitting to the laboratory.

For lead testing in other materials or matrices, contact the laboratory for additional information and instructions.

What do I do if Lead is found in my samples?

Most homes built before around 1980 will have some amount of lead paint in them. Current Canadian legislation limits the amount of lead in new dried paint to 90ug/g (0.009%). Lead paint in your home is only hazardous when it is chipping, peeling or deteriorating and creating dust.  Regularly check the condition of the paint and promptly repair the area without excessive sanding. If there are any concerns or renovations in the affected area are being considered, contact a professional lead abatement/removal service for an evaluation and prior to starting any renovation work.

Additional information

Refer to the Web Links below for further information. Alternatively, inquiries can be submitted by completing the Information Request Form located on this web page. Our Service Team is available to answer any questions that you may have regarding your analytical requirements.

Government of Canada:


US EPA – Lead: