Frequently Asked Questions

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Know the Rules

Confused by the wordy and obtuse guidelines online? Here’s what every landlord needs to know about lead paint testing and certification. 


All properties built before 1950 need to have a valid lead certificate. The certificate can be a Lead Free, Limited Lead Free or Full Risk Reduction certificate. As of January 1, 2015, all 1950-1978 properties that are sold or turned over to new tenants need a new lead paint inspection. 

Every landlord needs to complete the following four steps to maintain compliance:

  1. Obtain a valid lead paint certificate. 
  2. Register the property with the MDE (Maryland Department of the Environment) and renew registration on an annual basis. 
  3. Give tenants the Maryland Notice of Tenant’s Rights pamphlet and EPA brochure, and ask them to sign that they received both.
  4. Every two years, have tenants resign to indicate that they have both pamphlets. 
  5. You are not required to register with the MDE if you have a Lead Free or Limited Lead Free certificate. 
Washington, D.C.

The District of Columbia requires all rental homes built before 1978 with a pregnant woman or child under 6 living there to have a Lead Free certificate or clearance sampling. 

All landlords also need to file District Department of the Environment (DDOE) forms and have a copy.

Inspection Types

There are five core types of inspections that LeadProbe offers. Not sure which inspection is right for your property? When our testing professionals visit your property, they will start by using an XRF gun to determine which inspection is necessary and whether or not there is lead paint present. Then, they will recommend the proper inspection based on the findings.

Lead Free Lead Paint Inspection

This inspection uses an XRF tool to shoot an X-ray at the walls and see if there is lead-based paint present. If there is not any lead-based paint detected, we will issue a Lead Free certificate, and you have satisfied your legal obligations. 

Limited Lead Free Lead Paint Inspection

The limited inspection is similar to the Lead Free Lead Paint inspection, but the exterior of the property is allowed to have higher levels of lead paint. Providing that there is no lead paint inside of the home and the exterior surfaces do not have chipping, peeling or flaking paint, the Limited Lead Free certificate can be issued. 

Full Risk Reduction Inspection

This inspection is also known as a dust swipe inspection or lead safe inspection. This inspection is a visual inspection, and we will look for any defective paint inside of the property, on the exterior and in the basement. We will also complete dust swipes to ensure that no lead-containing dust is present. After passing this inspection, you will be issued a certificate that is valid only for the current tenant. Each tenant change requires a new inspection. 

Clearance Sampling Inspection

A clearance sampling inspection is done after the completion of a lead removal project to determine whether or not the property is safe. This is a visual inspection to check for defective paint followed by dust swipes to ensure no lead-containing dust is present. After passing this inspection, you will receive a certificate.

Pre-Renovation, Repair or Painting Inspection

This inspection is required by an EPA law that requires all renovations done in residential homes built before 1978 to be completed by an RRP-certified contractor or have testing performed before another contractor works on the property. This inspection will use an XRF gun to look for lead-based paint in the home. We will give you verbal results while performing the inspection and follow up with a formal written report containing our findings.  

To view our pricing for each of the above inspections and schedule your appointment today, view our pricing.

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How to Pass a Dust Swipe

Preparing a property for a dust swipe test is essential to ensure a passing grade. If you have failed a dust swipe test in the past, a thorough cleaning is even more important to make sure that your remediation measures were effective. 

General Cleaning Tips
  • Lead dust is sticky, so you need a heavy duty cleanser that will break the chemical bond. Never use window cleaner or bleach to attempt removal.
  •  Remove lead dust from the floor in phases to ensure it is all removed and not merely moved. Start on one side of the floor and push the dirt to the other side. Then, make a few additional passes from the original side to the dirty side. Then, use a HEPA vacuum to suck up all of the dust and remove it completely.
  •  You should only use a HEPA vacuum to remove lead-based paint dust. HEPA vacuums are made with filters designed to filter out paint dust and not release the dust back into the air after removal.
  • Be thorough when cleaning. If there is dust left behind, some of it might contain lead. If there is no dust present, there can’t be any dust containing lead-based paint.
Cleaning Wooden Windows

When wooden windows are present, there must be two swipes taken in each room instead of one. One swipe is taken from the floor and the second is taken from the window well. Which part of the window is the well? Open the window and look down. The area where the window closes, where the sash hits the bottom, is the window well. 

It’s tricky to get a window well to pass a dust swipe test because that area is rarely cleaned. The window well should be spotless and as clean as possible. It takes a speck of lead dust only the size of half a grain of salt per square foot to fail the swipe test. Once you clean the windows, you should place a paper towel in the well and remove it immediately before the inspection. Is the window well painted? Re-paint the area to be safe. 

Cleaning Basement Floors

Unfinished basement concrete floors in older homes are tough to clean since 50 years of lead dust is hard to remove overnight. If your initial swipe test was on the borderline and just failed, painting the basement floor can do the trick. Painting the floor will seal in any dust and ensure easy cleaning in the future. If you have the money to invest and don’t want to worry about repainting when the floor chips, you can cover the paint with a sealer. 

How to Reduce the Risk of Lead Poisoning

Many people are surprised to learn that lead paint is completely safe. However, lead dust is not. Lead dust is generated whenever lead paint flakes, peels or chips. Whenever children play on the floor, the lead dust ends up on toys, hands and clothing. Many kids accidentally ingest lead paint dust and then face serious health consequences as a result. 

Lead-based paint dust is a health hazard for kids under the age of 6 and pregnant women. All of our risk reduction tips are based on our years of experience, and not endorsed by the EPA, HUD, MDE, DOEE or CDC. If you are concerned about your health or the health of your children, you should have lead blood levels tested and an inspection performed on the property to evaluate the hazard level. 

Lead Poisoning Risk Reduction Tips

Make sure that no paint on the property is damaged. All lead-based paints should not be chipped, cracked, peeling, worn or rusting. If the paint is defective, the area should be repainted.


If you have lead-based paint in the home, use carpeting and throw rugs on the floor. When the dust has nowhere to go, children are more likely to touch it and ingest it. However, when a floor is carpeted, the lead dust will settle into the fibers and be out of reach. 


Wooden windows create a lot of lead-based paint dust, so you should keep old wooden windows closed and clean them frequently. Keep your eyes peeled for any defective paint on the sill, well and window. In states that experience high heat, snow and humidity like Maryland, wooden windows are particularly prone to defective paint. 


Unfinished basement floors aren’t cleaned regularly, so settled dust can be filled with lead-based paint residue. Paint the floor to seal in the dust and add rugs or carpeting on top to capture dust in the future.


If you are renovating a home built before 1978, you must use a contractor who is EPA RRP certified. Construction can kick up old dust and make an existing lead-based paint dust problem worse. 


Have children living in a home with lead-based paint screened for lead poisoning on a regular basis. The more active that your child is playing around the house, the higher the likelihood is that they were exposed to lead-based paint dust during the process. As your child ages, particularly from ages 2-6, it’s important to have screenings more regularly.

Is Lead Paint Dangerous?

The Basics of Lead-Based Paint

Lead was a common component of interior and exterior paints before 1978 when federal regulations heavily restricted its use. Lead is a highly-toxic metal that can lead to serious health problems in vulnerable populations, including pregnant women and young children. When lead is ingested and absorbed in the body, it can damage the brain, blood and vital organs. It can also lead to learning disabilities and behavioral problems in children, but all people do not necessarily show symptoms outside of blood tests. It’s important to remember that lead poisoning occurs from the ingestion of lead-based paint dust. The paint itself, providing that there is no cracking, peeling, chipping or damage, is not inherently dangerous.