Lead Sampling and Testing



Few People in Canada may be aware of the amount of lead that still exists in many of our homes. It wasn’t until 1976 that the Canadian government completely banned the use of interior lead-based paint. Although known to be harmful, lead-based paint was used for its’ superior colour and durability. In fact, it is the lead in paint that makes the colours of painted roadways and bridges so brilliant today.


It would appear, therefore, that lead may no longer be a threat, or is it?

The lead paint that has been on the walls of your home since it was built is still present under many layers of paint. This lead shouldn’t pose a threat, until it isdisturbed. Lead-based paint that has been disturbed due to renovation such as removal of walls and window/door fixtures, has become a major cause for concernin recent years. In fact, in both the United States and Britain, federally mandated regulations are now law regarding the appropriate clean-up and disposal of lead-dust that results from these types of activities.




Canada, Ontario


Canadian Federal Limits for Lead in Paints and Surface Coatings 2.1


The Canadian Federal Government began limiting the amount of lead in certain new paints to 0.5% by weight (5,000 mg/kg, μg/g, parts per million [ppm]) in 1976. The Surface Coating Materials Regulation (SOR/2005-109) dated April 19, 2005, as amended, pursuant to the 2005 Hazardous Products Act, revised the standard to limit the amount of lead in certain paints to 0.06% (600 ppm). In October 2010, this was revised to 0.009 % (90 ppm). As detailed in the Surface Coating Materials Regulation (SOR/2005-109), paints and surface coatings manufactured for the following uses are excluded from the limitation on lead content:


1) as an anti-corrosive or an anti-weathering coating applied on the interior or exterior surface of any building or equipment that is used for an agricultural or industrial purpose;


2) as an anti-corrosive or an anti-weathering coating applied on any structure, other than a building, that is used for an agricultural, industrial or public purpose;


3) as a touch-up coating for metal surfaces;


4) on traffic signs;


5) for graphic art on billboards or similar displays;


6) for identification marks in industrial buildings; or


7) as material for the purposes of arts, crafts or hobbies, other than material for use by children (SOR/2010-224, s.1).


Ontario Regulation 490/09 – Designated Substances 2.2

This regulation applies to every employer and worker at a workplace where lead is present, produced, processed, used, handled or stored and at which a worker is likely to be exposed to lead.


Ministry of Labour Guideline – Lead on Construction Projects 2.3

This document is intended to assists persons who have duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and its regulations, to protect workers from exposure to inorganic lead on construction projects.



The Ontario Ministry of Labour recognized their ‘Lead on Construction Projects Guideline.’  As well, Canada has made several regulations against lead products, namely lead paint for residential use (banned in 1976), leaded gasoline and lead in children’s toys. It is foreseeable that Canada will follow suit with the United States and Britain, and implement its’ own federally mandated regulations for handling lead-based paint-dust and debris, which will likely include lead testing.




(Note: Lead in dust is the most common way people are exposed to lead (EPA)


Children under age six are most at risk from small amounts of lead (EPA)

  • Children are at a greater risk that adults because their bodies are developing. During normal and frequent playing or hand-to-mouth activity, children may swallow or inhale dust from their hands, toys, food or other objects.

  • In children, lead can cause:

    • Nervous system and kidney damage

    • Decreased intelligence, attention deficit disorder (ADD), and learning disabilities

    • Speech, language and behavior problems

    • Lead affects every organ system in the body, excluding lungs


Among adults, pregnant women are especially at risk from exposure to
lead (EPA)

  • Lead is passed from the mother to the fetus and can cause:

    • Miscarriages

    • Premature births

    • Brain damage/

    • Low birth weight


Health effects of lead in adults include: (EPA)

  • High blood pressure

  • Fertility problems and sexual disorders in men and women

  • Digestive problems

  • Nerve disorders

  • Memory and concentration problems

  • Muscle and joint pain


Renovating, Repairing or Painting?

Was your home built before 1976?


If the answer is YES, there are a few important things your need to know about
lead-based paint:

  • Lead can harm children’s brains and developing nervous systems, causing reduced intelligence, learning disabilities and behavioural problems. Lead is also harmful to adults, particularly pregnant women.

  • Lead in dust is the most common way people are exposed to lead; this dust is often invisible.

  • Projects that disturb lead-based paint can create dust and endanger you, your family and your pets.