X-ray Fluorescence: Detection of Lead in Wall Paint

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  30 Apr 1971:
Vol. 172, Issue 3982, pp. 466-468
DOI: 10.1126/science.172.3982.466


An instrument has been developed for the in situ determination of lead on painted surfaces. It utilizes, as a source of gamma rays, radioactive cadmium-109 and its daughter silver-109 (metastable) to excite the K series x-rays of lead, and a solid-state, lithium-drifted germanium detector. The device, which is capable of detecting 0.26 milligram of lead per square centimeter of paint [approximately 3 percent (by weight) of lead in a single coat] beneath ten layers of lead-free paint, has been tested in a preliminary survey of several tenement apartments in New York City.