Three of the five home lead-testing kits we tested at Consumer Reports were useful though limited screening tools if you are worried about specific items in your home. The kits detect surface, or “accessible,” lead. They don’t detect lead embedded below the surface. If an item tests positive, remove it from use. For exact lead levels, have it screened professionally.
Homax Lead Check, $8
Lead Check Household Lead Test Kit, $18.45
These two kits consist of cigarette-shaped swabs, made by the same company, that turn pink when they detect lead. They were the easiest to use and identified accessible lead in toys, ceramic dishware, and vinyl or plastic. If lead concentrations are low, these swabs can take up to two hours to change color, but in our tests high concentrations produced immediate results. The eight-swab Lead Check Household Lead Test Kit pack is a better bargain than the Homax two-swab pack. Its packaging was less susceptible to being crushed.
Lead Inspector, $13
Swabs turn yellow, brown, gray, or black if lead is detected. It can take up to 10 minutes for a color change to occur at low lead levels. The kit, with eight tests, identified accessible lead and might be a good choice for painted metal jewelry. It also might be superior for pink or red items, because if those shades of paint bled onto a Lead Check swab, it might falsely appear to be positive. Have good ventilation and wear gloves to protect skin from chemicals.
First Alert, $13
The four test swabs provided are similar in design to those used in Lead Inspector. But we experienced some false negatives for accessible lead.
Pro-Lab Lead Surface, $10
This kit was less sensitive and more difficult to use. Two small pieces of treated paper are cut to create six tests. The paper is moistened and rubbed on the object, but we found the paper often fell apart before the two-minute rubbing time was over.
Thank you for posting this information. With all the toy recalls because of lead, Kids In Danger (KidsInDanger.org) has been hearing from parents concerned about what toys to trust. This gives them at least some information they can use to test the toys currently in their home.
the CPSC is saying these home test kits aren't very reliable...who do you believe in this country???
NPR had a radio interview with an executive at Consumers Union. Link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16034266
They even touched on the differing results between CPSC and Consumers Union. The executive noted that the tests and results were largely similar, just that the interpretations were different. The three recommended lead testing kits apparently detect *surface* lead paint fairly well. Therefore Consumers Union recommended them. However, no kit currently available can detect embedded lead, or lead coated with non-toxic paint. That led the CPSC to declare the same test results as "failures." So really, both organizations are trying to do their job. It's just an honest difference of opinion.
Conclusion: The kits are only good for testing paint & surface lead.
Where can one buy a kit for lead detection?
You can check for lead test kits at home centers, hardware stores and online.
I'd imagine you could take a sharp knife to scrape away some of the paint on an inconspicuous part of the toy. This way you can then test to see more than just the surface levels. My teething baby will easily get past the surface paint of anything, so I'll just intentionally do the same thing with a knife. Let's face it, consumers don't have the resources to have toys professionally screened for exact lead levels. Would my suggestion gets us a bit more accuracy with a lead test kit?
To get an accurate measurement of lead paint on toys, lab technicians scrape a certain amount of paint off the toy with a knife or razor blade, dissolve it in acid and test the solution in a sophisticated laboratory instrument called a spectrometer. The instrument is able to detect lead levels down to very minute amounts. Lead testing kits are not nearly as precise but can screen toys for the presence of lead. If used properly, the Lead Check and the Lead Inspector kits we tested will indicate positive test results if lead is present in dangerous amounts on the surface of the toy. No scraping is necessary.
How accurate were the test kits w/r/t false negatives? Maybe your orginal article goes into this. Do you have the data from the results of your tests and how you conducted the tests? Like most people, almost everything we use in our lives - shoes, pens, computer keyboards, sunglasses, light switches, etc., etc. are made in China. (Walk around your house and office and see for yourself.) For peace of mind, it would be nice to test all these things with an "accurate" tester. We obviously cannot take all these things to a lab somewhere or start scraping them and taking samples into a lab. Thanks for any feedback from anyone that comments.
We used the Lead Inspector kit to do a science fair experiment with soil. The test was easy to use and we felt it was acurate.
(We conducted 160 tests). We also conducted a test using a lead fishing weight to check the accuracy of the product. It tested a strong positive.
These two kits consist of cigarette-shaped swabs.
How safe are the toys that have been tested after being exposed to the lead testing solution with the swabs? Do they simply need to be washed with soap and water then rinsed or is a more detailed cleaning needed?
Kelli, below: I used the kit from Homax and at their site here http://www.leadtesttoys.com/solutions.aspx they just said to clean with an all-purpose cleaner. So I used soap and dishwater (a full plunge) and then some rubbing alcohol for peace of mind. Hope that helps!
How many of us grew up getting spanked, chewing on windowsills (painted with lead paint) and eating dirt and getting exposed to all kinds of bacteria???? After taking Microbiology and hearing both sides I believe there are things the gov't and other industries don't want us to know. The new way to make money is to scare parents. Being exposed to things boosts our immune system. It has also been proven that more antibacterials will cause children to be less healthy and more likely to develop a lot of diseases. Please do the research yourself.
Being exposed to LEAD does NOT boost your immune system. Lead is not a microbe. Bacterial exposure and exposure to toxins are two very different things.Exposure to lead can damage your brain. This is widely accepted as fact.
regarding the poster below, "being exposed to things boosts our immune system" is a good reference to bacteria, NOT heavy metals.
Heavy metals in the body causes a LOT of serious illness. I myself had to have chelation to get rid of lead in my system, and once it was gone, all my illnesses were gone.
Just because it was done in the past does not mean it was good, nor does it mean we are all fine. Look at how illness has skyrocketed in our country!
i LIKE TO KNOW HOW i CAN GET A LEAD TESTER
Lead paint is bad for kids "missy" my little sister had lead posioning when she was just 9 months and every weekend for a year my parents would have to try her to Baltimore Hospital to be treated. She is lucky that she is a healthy 14 year old girl. Lead is NOT SAFE around kids!! SO I think that lead test are wonderful to get! You can never be too safe!
Does embedded lead work its way to surfaces of paint and glazes on ceramics after they test safe? Whats the rest of the story? If something is not known to be lead free like something bought at yard sale,it may test ok but can later leech lead is something we should be mindful of, if this can happen. At thrift stores there are thousands of things for sale that I bet over 98% have lead in them. Thrift stores wiggled out of some protective lead laws & think about the FLea Markets. Its a nightmare. Its hard to feel safe when bargains are out there.
I am wondering if a little lead (in minute, trace amounts) does in fact help the body? Does anyone here with some biochemistry knowledge have an opinion about lead in trace amounts helps the body, instead of hurting the body. I do believe that too much lead (not unlike many things) is harmful; perhaps even deadly. I also wonder about the same about mercury: how much exposure equals toxic levels vs. trace amounts being okay or helpful to the human body.
I recently went to Walmart with the intention of buying an iron. On the boxes of a few different irons, it stated that lead was present in the electrical cords. I am now concerned that lead is present in all electrical cords, and that I have been exposed to high levels of lead in my apartment for years. Is it likely that electrical cords found on hair dryers, computers, cell phones, TV's, etc. contain lead that can be harmful to humans? Is there a lead test that will be able to detect the lead that is in electrical wires? Thank You!
Unfortunately, as I understand it, all electrical cords have lead in them. That means all appliances (blenders, mixers, irons, hairdryers, lighted mirrors, vacuum cleaner cords, etc) It also includes electric string lights that we put on trees during the holidays, as well as electric cords used to light holiday ceramic houses. The excuse is that lead is a good stabilizer for these naturally soft wires. I would wager that almost anything vinyl or plastic that comes from China has lead in it. Do a search on -lead in purses. This explosive discovery doesn't just cover purses, it's vinyl belts, wallets, shoes, and especially anything made with faux leather. The lead softens the vinyl to look and feel more like real leather. I am at this point completely paranoid about almost everything in the house! From what I understand the United States passed a law that starting in March of 2010 stricter regulations on lead content in purses will go into effect, but nothing mentioned about completely ridding our daily products of the metal. The less we know the less we can help ourselves. As we learn more about what big companies have been doing to us all these years, the question, "why are so many people getting cancer?" becomes clearer and clearer. We need to act, speak up, to make this a safer and healthier world for our children and generations to follow. If you really want to get angry, continue the search to read how lead was found in popular diaper rash creams, and brightly colored candies from Mexico! Here are some sources: http://www.ceh.org; This is the video first alerting the public to the fact that there is lead in synthetic purses:
http://abcnews.go.com/video/video?id=9639510&tab=9482930§ion=1206853&playlist=1363340; and this site explains what measures are being taken,http://www.ceh.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=426&Itemid=166
Consumer Watchdog’s Lawsuit Sets First-Ever Legal Ban on Lead in Purses FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
all the posts on this site ask intelligent and well thought out questions and that's why I was inspired to comment. From what I understand lead can leach out as a product ages, if these lead tests only test the surface and that is negative it doesn't appear that we can be certain that there is no lead lying in wait as the product goes through daily wear and tear, my feeling is that if it tests negative the product should be more safe than one that tests positive just from touching the surface.
Lead isn't dangerous unless you ingest or inhale the free ions- such as from a paint chip.
In response to Lee (1/11/10);
As a biochemist of 40+ years I have never encountered a protein/enzyme/nucleic acid that utilizes lead or mercury ions. In other words, no, small amounts of these metals are not good for any biological system that I know of, and that includes humans. Our biomolecules do use ions of other metals such as iron, copper and zinc, and in fact that is one reason the toxic metal ions cause problems; the toxic ions replace the normal ones in the biomolecules and destroy their function.
I appreciate the information you've shared here! I purchased several sets of watch faces off of e-bay to use in my beading, and they all came from China (predictably.) I'm not willing to put customers at what seems to be easily preventable risk, and I didn't know until last week that I had the option of home lead-testing. If, say, I invested in several Lead Inspector kits and the tests came back negative for surface lead, and if those results were trustworthy, can anyone help me understand whether or not it would be advisable to use the tested components in my products? I'd rather eat the cost than harm anyone, but if there is no appreciable risk in using the watch heads, I also need to know that.
I HAVE SPENT SEVERAL MINUTES READING ALL THE COMMENTS IN REF TO THE LEAD CONTENT IN MANY OF THE EVERYDAY PRODUCTS THAT WE USE IN OUR HOMES TODAY. MY UNDERSTANDING IN THE MAIN DANGER OF THE LEAD TO THE EVERYDAY PERSON IS THE INHILATION OF LEAD DUST INTO YOUR RESPIRATORY SYSTEM, MUCH LIKE ASBESTOS. RECENTLY OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT / ENVIROMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY PASSED NEW LAWS THAT OUR MAKING IT VERY HARD TO DO RENOVATION, REPAIR AND PAINTING (THE RRP LAW) IN HOMES BUILT PRIOR TO 1978 - THESE HOUSES ARE CONSIDERED TO BE LIKELY TO CONTAIN LEAD PAINT. I BELIEVE THAT HAVE CONSTRUCTON DONE IN YOUR HOME IS MOST LIKELY MORE DANGEROUS THEN TOUCHING A APPLIANCE CORD OR HAVING A PIECE OF JEWLERY FROM CHINA AROUND YOUR WRIST OR NECK. THE MAIN DANGE WITH LEAD AS STATED ABOVE IS THE AIRBORNE DUST WHICH COMES FROM THE RELEASE OF THESE PARTICLES WHEN OLD WOOD IS CUT THAT MAY HAVE LEAD BASED PAINT ON IT OR IF SOMEONE BURNS OR SANDS WOOD TRYING TO REMOVE OLD PAINT AND MOST OF THIS DANGER IS TO SMALL CHILDREN WHO END UP INGESTING LEAD. THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS THAT MOST PEOPLE WALKING ON EARTH HAVE SOME CONCENTRATION OF LEAD IN THERE SYSTEM JUST FROM YEARS OF EXPOSURE. I AM A HOME RENOVATION CONTRACTOR AND NOTICED THAT SEVERAL PEOPLE INQUIRED ON HOW THEY CAN GET AFFORDABLE LEAD TEST KITS. I FOUND ONE SITE ON THE INTERNET THAT HAS THE LOWEST PRICES AROUND AND YOU MAY WANT TO CHECK INTO IT BECAUSE I HAVE PURCHASED FROM THEM. THE SITE IS LEADPAINTEPASUPPLIES.COM - THEY HAVE GOOD PRICES AND THEY SHIP QUICKLY WITH NO HASSLES. I HOPE THIS HELPS SOMEONE OUT THERE.
Having remodeled several OLD homes in Memphis that HAD to have lead in them, I should have died several times according to EPA. I also lived in a house for several years that the drinking water came through LEAD supply line. I have Survived 30 years with No visible effects/defects.. I also have been exposed to asbestos on a few occasions..was used as siding as recently as the late 70's early 80's and available at lumber supply businesses. Oh Well
WHEN USING ANY OF THESE LEAD TEST KITS IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO KNOW THAT YOU MUST CUT THE SURFACE TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE GETTING INTO THE LAYERS OF PAINT THAT BENEATH THE SURFACE. IF YOU DON'T DO THIS YOU WILL NOT GET A CORRECT RESULT FROM ANY SWAB TYPE LEAD TEST KIT.