Testing Wood for Lead: Help Finding an Effective Method

In summary: Lead has been used as a fuel additive for a long time. Concerns have been raised that the lead may have settled in wood during the growing process, potentially leading to unacceptable concentrations of lead in wood. There is a desire to test wood for lead content to determine if the levels are unacceptable. A common method for testing water for lead is to use an over the counter lead test kit.
  • #1
Andre
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Lead in the form of -for example- Tetra ethyl lead has long been used as fuel additive, ultimately causing soil pollution. There is concern that this lead ultimately settled in wood during the growing process, which may have led to unacceptable concentrations of lead in wood.

So, it would be desirable to test wood on lead contents. It appears that this is being done with hand held http://www.niton.com/Portable-XRF-Technology/how-xrf-works.aspx.

So I attempted to google for a chemical testing method of wood for lead concentrations but with underwhelming success. So my question is...help.
 
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  • #2
Do you want to destructively test or swipe test?
 
  • #3
anything goes, destructive is fine, thanks.
 
  • #5
You could carefully combust a weighed sample of the wood in a covered crucible using a muffle furnace set to about 400C. Remove and cool then quantitatively transfer the ash (using DI water only) into a large beaker. Add some hydrochloric acid and boil gently until only a moist residue remains. Add some nitric acid and boil gently until only a moist residue remains.
Cool and take up the moist residue into some DI water. Dilute the water to a known volume (100 mL, for example).

Test the aqueous sample using an over the counter lead test kit for testing water samples. The amounts of nitric and hydrochloric acid you use are not too important but you should have a clear solution at the end of the process.

You should treat a blank in the same way and subtract any reading you obtain from that of your sample.

Good luck with it.
 
  • #6
I'm not entirely sure why you think wood would be an issue. Lead is a heavy metal and tends to bioaccumulate in fatty tissues. (not something wood has a lot of) Wood is also very far down the food chain, meaning low levels in general of bioaccumulated toxins. I've never heard of it anyway.

In any case, you're talking about looking for trace amounts, in which case the 'classical' method of analysis chemistree mentioned may not be usable and/or practical and/or reliable.

X-ray fluorescence, or ICP-AES would be the typical methods used in the Real World. Both are indeed pretty expensive. That's why there are lab and testing companies.
 

Related to Testing Wood for Lead: Help Finding an Effective Method

1. How do I test wood for lead?

One effective method for testing wood for lead is using a lead test kit. These kits are available at most hardware stores and can provide quick and accurate results.

2. Can I use a home testing method for wood lead testing?

While there are some home testing methods available, it is recommended to use a lead test kit specifically designed for wood. These kits have been tested and proven to provide more accurate results.

3. What should I do if the wood tests positive for lead?

If the wood tests positive for lead, it is important to take proper precautions when handling and disposing of it. You may need to seek professional assistance for removal and disposal.

4. Are there any health risks associated with lead in wood?

Yes, exposure to lead can lead to serious health issues, especially in children and pregnant women. It is important to take necessary precautions when working with or around lead-containing wood.

5. How can I prevent exposure to lead when testing wood?

To prevent exposure to lead, it is recommended to wear protective gear such as gloves and a mask when handling the wood. It is also important to properly dispose of any contaminated materials and wash your hands thoroughly after handling the wood.

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