Lead test kits

December 6, 2007 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

After writing about lead-free ammunition, I thought I might be finished with this metal for a while, but there it was coming out of my radio this morning…

NPR’s Morning Edition (Dec 6, 2007) ran a story on Testing Toys for Lead. It seems that the confluence of detectable amounts of lead in certain Chinese-manufactured toys, and the annual rush to buy toys for Christmas, has created a marketing opportunity for a new product: lead test kits. Smear a little test reagent on your toy and see whether the reagent changes color. If it does, you (and Santa) have a problem – a lead-contaminated toy. If it doesn’t, you (and Santa) have another problem – a toy covered with test reagent.

There is also the question of whether the test kits really work. Consumer Reports tested five kits and found three that were acceptable. No “false positives” or “false negatives.” (A “false positive” refers to a result that gives you a false sense of danger – the test reagent says, “yes, there is lead on this toy” when there really isn’t. A “false negative” refers to a result that gives you a false sense of safety – the reagent says, “no lead here” when there really is some.)

If you should run into lead anywhere this Christmas, whether it is a toy, old house paint, a lead acid battery, or a computer monitor, dispose of it properly. Do not simply toss the item in the trash.

Lead links:

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