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Lead

The National Lead Laboratory Accreditation Program (NLLAP)

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What Is NLLAP and Why Was It Created?

The National Lead Laboratory Accreditation Program is an EPA program that defines the minimum requirements and abilities that a laboratory must meet to attain EPA recognition as an accredited lead testing laboratory. EPA established NLLAP to recognize laboratories that demonstrate the ability to accurately analyze paint chips, dust, or soil samples for lead.

Fixed-site laboratories, mobile laboratories, and testing firms that operate portable equipment are all eligible to obtain EPA recognition under NLLAP. An organization may choose to be recognized for one, two, or all three of the sample types (paint chips, dust, and soil). The presence of lead could be a serious concern if you are a homeowner, prospective home buyer, or the manager/owner of a school or building. When the collection and analysis of potential sources of lead becomes necessary, you may choose to use an EPA-recognized NLLAP laboratory to conduct such analyses for paint chips, dust, or soil samples.

How Does NLLAP Work?

NLLAP ensures that participating laboratories have met EPA requirements and demonstrated the capability to accurately analyze paint chips, dust, or soil samples for lead. All laboratories recognized by EPA under NLLAP are required to undergo on-site assessments conducted by an accrediting organization (also called an accreditation body) participating in NLLAP, and to successfully perform on a continual basis in the Environmental Lead Proficiency Analytical Testing (ELPAT) Program. The ELPAT is the EPA-approved laboratory performance proficiency testing program administered by the American Industrial Hygiene Association to ensure that laboratories continue to accurately analyze samples for lead.

A list of EPA-recognized NLLAP laboratories is provided to the public so homeowners, lead inspectors and contractors can find EPA-recognized labs for lead sample analysis.

Laboratories and other testing firms recognized under NLLAP follow the Laboratory Quality System Requirements (LQSR), version 3 (PDF) developed by EPA. The LQSR identifies the minimum requirements laboratories must meet for use by accrediting organizations when evaluating laboratories performing environmental testing activities under NLLAP. It is based on the requirements of the International Organization for Standardization and International Electrochemical Commission (ISO/IEC) Standard 17025:2005 (E) General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories.

How Does the Homeowner Benefit and Use NLLAP?

The presence of lead could be a serious concern if you are a homeowner or prospective home buyer. Testing for lead should be considered if a homeowner plans to sell or buy a home built before 1978, has children, or plans to renovate, whether as a do-it-yourself project or by a contractor. If a homeowner suspects they have lead paint or other lead hazard, they may choose to test for the presence of lead using an EPA-recognized NLLAP laboratory by following these steps:

  • Review EPA’s national list of EPA-recognized NLLAP laboratories
  • Locate a laboratory in your area from the list
  • Contact the laboratory for lead paint, soil or dust testing instructions

When Must Samples Be Analyzed by an EPA-recognized NLLAP Laboratory?

In states and tribal lands where EPA is operating a federal Lead-Based Paint Activity program, any paint chips, dust, or soil samples collected in a risk assessment, lead hazard screen, or clearance after a lead abatement must be analyzed by a laboratory or testing firm recognized by EPA under NLLAP.

In states or tribal lands where the state or tribe administers its own EPA-authorized program, the requirements for the analysis of paint chips, dust, and soil samples by an EPA-recognized NLLAP laboratory or testing firm are a minimum requirement. Even though the overall program is authorized by EPA, a state or tribe may have additional testing regulations that are more stringent than EPA requirements. However, a state or tribe may have additional testing regulations or regulations that are more stringent than EPA requirements. To be sure what the requirements are, check with the state or tribal program where sampling will be conducted.

For information on whether your state or tribe has a federal Lead-Based Paint Activity program or an EPA-authorized state/tribal program, access the most current state and tribal authorization map (PDF) or call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).

It is possible for a city or other local government to have its own additional regulations, so check in your locality as well for any testing requirements. Private individuals may wish to have samples tested for lead that meet EPA recognition.

Find an EPA-recognized NLLAP laboratory

EPA-recognized Accrediting Organizations

EPA currently recognizes four accrediting organizations to assess laboratories seeking accreditation under NLLAP for lead sample analysis. They are:

To apply for accreditation as a lead sample analysis laboratory under NLLAP, contact one of these four accrediting organizations.

For organizations, including states that wish to apply to be recognized as an accrediting organization under NLLAP, EPA has developed a Model Memorandum of Understanding (PDF) that can be submitted to EPA for approval. 

What Other Information is Available on NLLAP? 

Other reports and documents related to NLLAP are listed below. They can be obtained by following these links and accessing the documents on-line.