The use of lead-based paint in construction projects had been prohibited since 1978 in the United States. And yet three decades later, lead paint abatement activities are still going on because many houses, particularly old ones, are still testing positive for lead in their paint systems. Data from the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates around 75% of houses in the U.S. to be pre-1975 constructions, or about 50 plus million homes. The cost of lead paint abatement activities for these houses? Hundreds of millions dollars every year.
Lead removal per square feet can cost in the vicinity of $10 to $15. Multiplying this for a pre-1978 house with an area of between 1,500 to 2,000 square feet and the lead paint abatement can run anywhere from $15,000-$30,000.
There is also a cost associated with sampling and laboratory testing prior to lead paint abatement activities. Data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) pegs the professional lead testing fee at around $20-$50 per sample. On the other hand, off-the-shelf and do-it-yourself lead testing products can be purchased ranging from $10 to $40 each. These kits have limited capabilities for lead testing, but at some cases they can be sufficient. The lead dust test kit from the National Safety Council costs around $30.
When instead of lead removal, the property owner opts for encapsulation as a lead paint abatement activity, the cost of encapsulation is around 50 cents for one square foot, or only $1,000 for a 2,000-square-foot house. Encapsulation does not remove lead per se, but applies a liquid coating over the lead-painted surface, sealing it tightly to diminish the threat of lead ever being released.