The requirements for lead paint testing are pretty rigorous when it comes to doing any sort of home improvement on a home that was built before 1978, and while there are certain products that are commonly used, that include either 3M’s products or D-Lead ones, there are also other options that include the use of a handheld XRF analyzer gun, sometimes referred to as the portable XRF lead testing gun.
While these machines may originally seem expensive, and why they are commonly used only by lead paint professionals, they do have a purpose in being able to satisfy the RRP requirements for contractors looking to do home improvement. Yes, their price may seem prohibitive to some in the beginning, but there are very good reasons why you may choose to go down this route instead with the benefits they provide.
Various companies also provide great financing options for machines like that, making it a lot easier to just pay the monthly fee rather than having to come up with all the money in the beginning.
If you are doing a lot of testing, you will quickly come to realize that paying $3 every single time will add up when you have to test several surfaces, and in addition they also will disrupt the surface and leave an unsightly mark, which will be bothersome to cover up, if your home improvement in itself isn’t going to do the job. If you are often doing work for someone that simply may want to assess the potential risk without necessarily applying additional coats of paint afterwards, you don’t want to be going around the house leaving little marks with a knife everywhere you are testing, which is the advantage of the XRF to the usual testing kits.
You can’t go wrong with the industry standard
The XRF analyzer is really the industry standard when it comes to lead paint inspections, especially when you have to abide by the EPA’s RRP rule, which has helped increase the public awareness of the issue, because of the threat that the heavy metal poses to people, especially long term exposure to children.
While their price tag may seem scary, we promise you these machines are game changers. These machines are exactly what you would have hoped you had gotten many years ago rather than running around with those little sticks. No longer will you have to worry about inconclusive readings and trying to figure out what color a specific liquid is, and how it compares to the standards set by the EPA. Yes, it can often be relatively hard to figure out if the amount of lead in a particular test is in fact within compliance or not, whereas an XRF lead testing gun will simply give you a reading that you can go off of.
While Red Means Lead may have been a catchy phrase that 3M came up with back in the day, it is not an easy one having to deal with when all you want to do is to simply know if your test is good enough or not.
Yes, on Check4Lead we do recommend the D-Lead tests over 3M’s but if you want to be take seriously and be able to provide a high quality lead based paint inspection, the last thing you want is having to retest a sample site because you are unsure of the results.
The XRF is a powerful machine allowing you to check for lead paint through the use of x-ray.
How does an XRF analyzer work?
You may or may not already know that XRF stands for X-ray fluorescence, effectively using an x-ray beam to measure what it is you’re hoping to measure by displacing electrons from their atomic orbital positions.
When these electrons are released, they will show a specific burst of energy that can be measured and from that, the machine can determine which element it is encountering. Different elements will have different bursts of energy, why it is possible to classify the elements on this basis.
The x-ray affects the electrons with a sufficient amount of energy from within the x-ray tube at which point this energy interacts with the atoms, and from the difference in energy between the beam emitted by the gun and the binding energy that holds the electrons in place in the atom, causing displacement of these electrons. As displaced electrons are knocked out of their orbit, vacancies will arise, which prompts the atom to immediately fill the void and fix the instability. Atoms from further away for the nucleus will jump to take the void spot, at which point they lose some energy. The energy lost will be what the XRF analyzer measures to see what that energy loss corresponds to in terms of the elements.
While it is interesting to actually know how these machines work, in terms of compliance with RRP regulation, it is more interesting to know that these will not have some of the same issues that the more basic test kits have, like false negatives, why many kids families prefer having these tests used rather than simply going online and finding one of the DIY kits.
The price of a handheld XRF analyzer for lead testing
While you may be concerned with the initial price of a handheld XRF analyzer for lead testing, the reality of the matter is that you aren’t just buying a piece of equipment. You are rather vastly expanding your service offering, and improving the rate at which you are able to conduct the necessary work and ensure RRP compliance.
There are a bunch of different XRF analyzers and they have varying price tags depending on what you are looking for. You can generally expect that an XRF gun from a reputable company can cost you between $18,000 and $50,000, with the upper limit being a significantly more advanced machine also.
We are not in the business of selling you an unnecessarily expensive machine for your purposes, and you will not need to pay $50,000 either in order to be able to provide assurances of RRP compliance, but you will need to expect that you are paying more than the $3 per test swab that you have been used to paying, and that you will be recouping your cost as you go.
It is a commitment
While you can get your every day contractor to be able to use the test kits after they have taken the necessary RRP certifications, you aren’t likely to just hand over such an expensive piece of equipment to the next guy that you hire, why this investment will of course be a commitment as it does come with a certain learning curve.
Bruker S1 Titan
The Bruker S1 Titan is one of the finest pieces of equipment in this category and one of the most common that people are looking for the price of and while you may be able to find them costing between $11,000 and $17,000 for refurbished models, we will be happy to assist you with the price of a new one, should you have an interest in it.
Niton Xlp 300
A popular alternative to the Bruker S1 Titan is the Niton Xlp 300 which costs around $7,500 for a used model on Ebay, while you may be able to find it down to as little as $5,500 if you go on other websites.
Olympus Delta XRF Analyzer
Olympus Delta XRF analyzers come in different categories and with different capabilities for what they are able to scan for. The one y ou would likely require for your purposes would simply be the Olympus Delta Element XRF Analyzer which costs 18,000 when new.
While some people may be more so looking for an XRF analyzer that is for sale and one that they can keep using for a long time, there are others that may simply need a piece of equipment that they can use for a limited amount of time, where you may not wish to actually go out and acquire a machine, but rather just rent one.
Good news, these XRF machines are also up for rental and can be rented by the week or month, depending on what your needs are.
If you actually start doing the math on some of these machines, you will find that you don’t need to be doing all that many jobs before you start seeing that the economics on them is better than going through a vast amount of test kits. For instance, if you are spending $400 on test kits every single month, that is almost the same as buying a used machine with just the equivalent of a year’s worth of tests.
We understand that it is obviously a major business decision if you choose to look into either an Olympus Delta, a Niton XLp, a Bruker S1 Titan or one of the other handheld devices available on the market, and we’d be happy to provide you with further guidance on the topic should you wish get a more extensive list of the different options, although those are by far the most popular and notable options we find our users looking into. If you are in fact paying this much for such a piece of equipment, we heavily encourage you to get it from a reliable manufacturer rather than choosing one that you don’t even know will ensure that you are RRP compliant.